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Rotting animal drives students from classroom in Glendale

September 28, 2011 |  8:50 am

Students at a Glendale elementary school were expected to return to their classrooms Wednesday after being displaced by chemical fumes released during the cleanup of a decomposing animal.

Two teachers at Dunsmore Elementary who became ill remained on medical leave, while Principal Karen Stegman and a maintenance worker were examined Friday and cleared to continue working, officials told the Glendale News-Press.

No students were injured, officials said.

It began Sept. 20 when school staffers noticed a peculiar odor and asked maintenance workers to investigate.

“To me, it smelled like an old diaper that had been sitting in a trash can for a couple of days,” Stegman said.

It was eventually determined the smell was coming from an animal hole under a set of cement stairs, said Steven Frasher, a spokesman for the Glendale Unified School District.

Maintenance workers poured industrial-strength cleaner down the hole, but did not fill it with dirt, Frasher said.

That night, fumes from the solution rose into one kindergarten classroom and one kindergarten-first grade split classroom, irritating the teachers’ eyes, throats and sinuses.

The displaced students were squeezed into alternative classrooms according to grade level, and an extra teacher and parent volunteers were added to handle the increased numbers, Stegman said.

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-- Megan O'Neil, Times Community News

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