School Board to spend $215,000 on toxicology doctor

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SARASOTA, Fla. - The Sarasota County School Board has hired a toxicology expert to try and determine what's causing teachers and students to feel ill at Lamarque Elementary School in North Port.

Dr. James McCluskey from the University of South Florida will be paid an estimated $215,000 to conduct interviews with staff members, look at their medical records, conduct tests, and determine a cause.

"I have no reason to doubt the teachers," said District CEO Scott Lempe. "We just aren't ready to say it's a function of the building."

That's what some have been saying for months. They blame the school's drywall as a cause, even though extensive tests have concluded otherwise, according to the district officials. Last week ABC 7 took those results to a third party drywall expert, who agreed with the district's findings.

"They need to shut the school down," said Andrea Furia, who has two children at Lamarque. "My kids have been chronically sick. In fact, I had to pick up one of them early today for a headache, fatigue and throat issues."

Dr. McCluskey will begin his work this week. There is no timetable as to when he will conclude his report.