Health department to investigate 'sick school'

- Decades of questions about the old Bayshore High School building in Manatee County could soon be answered.

For the first time, Manatee County officials and school board members discussed what can be done. They've decided the Manatee County Health Department will lead the investigation after more than 400 alumni have been diagnosed with rare forms of cancer or had children with birth defects.

The health department is urging people to submit their medical records for the investigation.

"I feel as though we need to fight for this, for the wrong that was done to us back then," said Carol Wilkinson.

READ: Old Bayshore High alumni plagued with cancer, rare diseases

Wilkinson listened closely during the meeting. She graduated from Bayshore High School in 1981 and believes her school made her sick. She has first diagnosed with vocal chord cancer seven years ago.

Surgery removed it, but four years later, the cancer came back. After treatments, she was fine but a month ago she found out her white blood cell count is off the charts. She will find out Friday if she has cancer or an immune deficiency.

"I've had so many people I know [be diagnosed with an] immune deficiency, cancer, so many things we should never have gotten. I don't have cancer in my family. Not at all," she said.

Many alumni believe water was contaminated by old diesel tanks buried underground. There's also speculation about an old chemical plant that could have tainted the water. Former students and their relatives just want answers after all these years.

"I'd like some resolutions, to find a closure of some sort," said Wilkinson. 

The school has since been closed and torn down. On Friday, there will be a meeting in Tallahassee to decide how to get funding to test the school site.

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