To the Editor:
I was called by my spouse to the Carrollton School complex last Wednesday where four of my children attend school. She said she smelled natural gas in and around the building. She expressed to me that several of the parents and teachers also smelled gas. I proceeded to tell her to go to the principal’s office and report it, and I drove to the grade school, where my youngest and her mother were, and went into the building.
The janitor was there, walking around and looking for any source, and I listened to two teachers discussing that they also smelled gas. At this time I told the janitor that maybe the Fire Department should be called, as this building is full of everyone’s children, and the fire department could come and test to be on the safe side. They then made the request for the fire department and I continued to walk around with the janitor, until our Asst. School Superintendent sought me out directly and asked me to leave the building, because it was being evacuated. I informed her that I was aware of the situation and had made the suggestion for the fire department to respond. I am on the County 911 Board, and chief paramedic with EMT, and she told me I still needed to leave, until the fire department arrived and cleared the building, which I did immediately with no further words. I went to my vehicle and sat in it in the parking lot next door to the school while the fire department investigated and found that the odor was from something gas fired at the feed mill, and that the building was now safe for the children to be returned.
While sitting in my vehicle, one of the cafeteria workers came to my window, to ask what was going on (I was in an EMS vehicle) and I began to talk with her about what I knew still never leaving my vehicle. It was at this time, our school Administrator, Palmer Fogler, came STORMING out of the side door of the school, and physically placed her hand on the back of her employee and told her to return to her work station, and then proceeded to yell at ME for causing this “commotion” at HER school. Before I was able to speak a single word to her, she told me that I was to leave immediately if I ever came back onto school system property that I would be arrested, and stormed back into the school building. Again, I never spoke a word to her prior to this order. Not a single word and was still in my vehicle. Baffled by this and unsure if I had correctly understood her, I went into the office, and upon crossing the doorway entrance, she told the secretary to “call them, he came in” and asked me to leave the building which I did. The police arrived in seconds, still being there from the gas investigation, and Mrs. Fogler re-emerged telling them that I was to be removed and not allowed onto any school system property. When asked for a reason, in the presence of the officers, she clearly stated “I don’t need to give a reason.”
After I left, I saw Columbia Gas vehicles parked near the intersection of Main St. and McCook Ave. near the school. The next day, Columbia Gas employees had the street dug up and were working on a main gas line.
My only history with this woman, is;
1.) I am on the nutrition board reviewing the school lunch program with differing opinions on the value of nutrition of our kids than those of Ms. Fogler. .
2.) I have been involved in the parents group to protect the stage our kids have their productions on, again with opposite opinions of Mrs. Fogler.
3.) I have attended several school board meetings and been involved in the saving of our preschool, as she would like to close the building it is presently located in, and eventually sell it, which is an injustice again, to our children.
5.) I wrote two letters to the editor in regards to my feelings of improper handling of a matter of a 20+ year school bus driver of our system.
5.) I am the person that suggested that when the smell of natural gas sensed by numerous parents, teachers, and such, that the Fire Department should be called.
6.) I recently voiced my interest in running for school board if things continued as they have most recently.
After this incident, I proceeded to the Carrollton Police Department to determine what the legal thing to do about being banned from school property indefinitely would entail. I was told I potentially couldn’t even come there in the event of a medical emergency with a child, unless it was my own.
I routinely respond to every medical emergency at our school in an emergency response vehicle, and am very active in numerous school activities. I stop in from time to time and purchase “excess” lunches not used for that day, to bring to people in the community to promote my feelings that they aren’t what we should feed our kids.
I or any other parent should not be banned from public school property for no reason, specifically by someone not from or living in our community that simply does not want me to cause any question of her decisions, or disrupt her in her six figure job.
I would like the public to know of this incident, and ask for the public’s support to find out what is going on in our school system. She can’t fire me! She can’t fire you.
Kenneth J Joseph
Chief Paramedic Emergency Medical Transport, Inc.