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Thursday, July 25, 2024


Parents and guardians of students at Joseph Sibilly School and its Monroe Annex were told at a Parent-Teacher Association meeting Wednesday evening that they face a fast-approaching deadline if they are considering bringing suit against the government over water contamination at the school campuses.
A potential litigant must file a "claim form," which is preliminary to bringing an actual suit, within 90 days of the occurrence of the action that is the subject of the suit, they were told. Ann Arnold, chair of the Concerned Citizens for Sibilly School, explained to those present that the claim is "reserving your right to sue."
The form "doesn't mean you are going to sue," she said, "but if you don't file it by the deadline, you will not be able to sue."
Another meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the Open Classroom pre-school, located just up the road that forks from Sib's Restaurant in the other direction from the road leading to Sibilly School. Claims forms will be available and a notary public will be present to notarize signatures, Arnold told The Source.
Parents and guardians of current students, those of students who attended the school from 1996 through last year, and teachers and staff who are there now or were there during those years are encouraged to attend, she said.
Individuals should not rely on a class-action suit but need to file their individual forms, she told The Source. "According to our lawyer, a group can't sue the government," she said. "We all will serve them at the same time, but each individual must do it."
The claim form states that the government should be held liable for "negligent contamination of drinking water, causing exposure to, and ingestion of, carcinogenic and other toxic substances."
Arnold, a parent of two Sibilly students, has been in the forefront of protesting government handling of the water-contamination problems since they came to light at the start of the school year. She said at Wednesday's meeting that she is in contact with the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta about that agency becoming involved in investigating the matter.
PTA officials reported at the meeting that there are indications that the Sibilly water supply may now be contaminated by different substances than those detected in mainland laboratory analyses conducted three times in the last year.
It was also reported that the most recent testing of water in the Sibilly cistern, last week, was unsuccessful because the samples drawn were contaminated.
"An epoxy-type glue" had been used in the installation of a tap "and they didn't give it enough time to dry before drawing the sample," Arnold said. At a meeting of parents with Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds, Education legal counsel Tregenza Roach and other department officials, she said, they were assured that new testing would be done.
Arnold said ultraviolet water-purification systems are being put into the schools being rebuilt after destruction by Hurricane Marilyn and she would like to see them installed in all other schools as well. The problem, she said, is that "the government is broke."
Education officials indicated they would be in favor of such installation "if other funding sources are found," she said.

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