Students report nosebleeds, migraines due to roof repairs at local high school

SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL)- Repairs at Sullivan East High School are sparking health concerns among students and parents.

After they reached out to News Channel 11, we took concerns to the Sullivan County School System in search of answers.

Some students tell us the smell of tar and chemicals while roofing work is underway has given them nosebleeds, headaches, and other health problem, sending a few of them to urgent care.

“We are there seven hours a day just smelling those fumes, it can’t be good for us,” Sulllivan East student Camille Painter said.

“The smell from the tar, and there’s gas smells all the time, they cause severe migraines and I’ve actually had a couple nose bleeds from them before,” Sullivan East student Heather Millhorn said.

Sullivan County Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said she wasn’t available for an on camera interview but did speak with us over the phone.

She said she has received very few complaints about the effects of the roof work.

Rafalowski would not let us film inside the school, but students sent us these pictures:

east east2 east3 east4

The students told us they’ve seen tiles fall from the ceiling, and tar leaking into the classroom from the roof.

Rafalowski said any tar leaks have been cleaned up immediately.

She told us if anyone has an issue they need to bring it to the attention of the school system.

But the students and parent I talked with Tuesday said they have.

“When I walk in within 10 minutes the smell is just overwhelming and it’s just, my head just kills me throughout the day and it’s hard to focus,” Painter said.

“How did they not know that that this was going to be a hazard?” Sullivan East parent Brenda Case said. “And for them to sit back and say that nobody’s complaining, I know for one I complained.”

Rafalowski said she has checked out concerns about the smell and is making sure it’s not more than what would be expected with roof construction.

She said there is a project manager on site to fix any problems that come up as they finish the repairs.

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