Deer Park Elementary hallways empty

March 28, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Something was missing at Deer Park Elementary School in Randallstown yesterday morning when Roberto Adams and Gregory Brown arrived, bundled in parkas against the wind.

"Usually, the children would be piled up all over the place,"' said Roberto, a 9-year-old third-grader, as he looked at the empty driveway.

He and Gregory, a 6-year-old first-grader, said they walked the 10 minutes to school after their mother left for work -- without hearing that their school had been closed at least until the end of spring break.

Baltimore County officials announced Tuesday afternoon that the school would close for an investigation of possible health hazards. Some parents had kept their children home after a chemical leak from the heating system led students to complain of breathing and other health problems.

After meeting with county health and environmental officials, schools Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione said the county will hire a consultant to test the heating systems and the quality of air and water at Deer Park.

Officials said they expect the study to be completed by April 5, in time for the reopening of schools April 8. Deer Park will open then -- if it gets a clean bill.

Meanwhile, testing of air quality is to begin today at Timber Grove Elementary in Reisterstown. Parents there have complained of mold, a dirty ventilation system and contaminated water, but the school is open.

Larry D. Jenkins, president of Jenkins Professionial Inc., which will conduct air tests and an evaluation of the mechanical system, said he expects to issue a report within two weeks.

Deer Park Principal Beth M. Strauss said she was giving her staff a choice yesterday of working at the school or elsewhere. She said she received only two calls -- and no complaints -- from parents despite the sudden closing.

"They wanted to know when the school will open, and do we have to make up the days," Mrs. Strauss said.

A few children continued to show up as the first bells sounded in the nearly empty hallways.

Stephanie Calendine, a 7-year-old second-grader, and Daniel Norris, a 5-year-old in prekindergartener, squealed with glee when they arrived at the door and saw the hand-lettered notice.

"We didn't even know it," said Daniel's grandfather Martin Norris of Deer Park apartments.

"It's fine; it's a good idea," he said of the study, "but I am concerned because they've already lost a lot of time with the snow."

A van loaded with children pulled slowly through the driveway and left without stopping.

Second-grader Kenneth Harris, 7, was the only disappointed student to walk up yesterday. "I want to go to school," said Kenneth. His math class is learning regrouping, he said, explaining helpfully, "It's when you cross out a number and put it with another one."

A woman who refused to give her name said she had heard that the school was closed, but came with her 8- and 9-year-olds to see for herself. She said school officials should find space for the students somewhere else.

"Yes, we heard about it, but what are we going to do with the kids for the rest of the week?"

Pub Date: 3/28/96

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