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On July 5, 2009, a dream ticket of Folk music notables will join hands and raise voices on behalf of one of their greatest fans and staunchest supporters: Angela Page, Folk DJ Extraordinaire.
For thirteen years, Angela Page worked for the Liberty Middle School in a leaking library.
In 1991, a week before the school’s official opening, the Liberty School Board was informed that water was leaking into the building from the library’s roof. The District placed buckets above the ceiling tiles to catch the incursions and for the thirteen years that Angela was the librarian, the buckets remained. They were still in place when the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) issued its negative health assessment in 2005. (See: 2005 NIOSH report of its findings.)
In short, the underlying water problem was never effectively addressed during Angela’s tenure with the District and by 2004, after suffering prolonged exposure to mold gases, she found herself in the nightmare world of neurotoxicity. (After you read about neurotoxicity, you might wonder as I have whether Angela represents a horrible kind of “canary in the mine.”)
She fought to work and live with her illness. She sought out medical specialists and the resultant testing and treatment protocols have been extremely expensive. Despite NIOSH (2005 NIOSH report) urging employees to, “Seek physician treatment of health symptoms related to the school environment, report health symptoms related to the school environment and to immediately report water leaks or incursions to school facilities personnel,” the Liberty School District responded to Angela’s plight by launching employment termination proceedings against her. With her health deteriorating, after more than twenty years of service, she was forced to fund a legal defense against the District’s charges of incompetency. (See: New York State Education Department §3020a hearings.)
When the Liberty School Board fired Angela, questions were raised by the public and in the press concerning the ethics and humaneness of the decision. Nonetheless, in one felled-swoop, Angela lost both her job and critical health insurance coverage. Her only recourse was to seek relief from Workers’ Compensation and thus began a treadmill of court hearings, doctor depositions, constant delays, appeals and orders to consult yet more medical professionals.
For more than two of the past five years, Angela has lived with no income. To date, the school’s insurers have paid only a tiny fraction of her expenses. By law, even when Workers’ Compensation hearings end favorably, the worker’s income is capped. Angela’s cap was set at $400 per week and from that pittance, attorney fees are deducted. Though more recent caps are higher, workers whose rates were established at an earlier time do not benefit from those increases.
Having met the statutory requirements to explore all other legal remedies, Angela filed suit in The US District Court. She charged that The Liberty School District discriminated against her on the basis of her disability. If the case proceeds as most of this sort do, it will be lengthy and debilitating.
Angela’s life has been turned inside out. Due to Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, she must live in a chemical-free environment. She only travels or goes into public when she can exercise control over the environment she’s entering. Her Valentine’s Day wedding was broadcast over WJFF so friends and family could join the celebration without risking Angela’s health. (For more information on Angela’s illness and legal battles, go to Liberty School Mold and to School Mold Help which have a large number of articles.)
Though embarrassed by her loss of financial independence, Angela “is very grateful for the farmers, friends and family who have bridged financial gaps. I’d rather be struggling financially with these friends and family that I have, than wealthy without them.”
On Sunday, July 5, 2009, bring the family to The Beaverbrook Rod & Gun Club on Dexheimer Road in Narrowsburg, NY for a day of celebration and great music.
Visit Jill’s Kitchen for event details, performers, ticket information and to help out the day of the event. Jill Padua says, “20-25 volunteers will be needed for shifts at the “gate,” CD sales, parking, set-up and clean-up. You’ll get to enjoy music all day and I’ll feed you a meal! Please call Jill at 845-252-3043 if you can help us to help Angela. Thank you.”