Lawyers for Greenwood School District 52 released an audio recording Monday connected with the tuberculosis outbreak at Ninety Six Primary School.
The recording, which lawyers said was recorded for reference purposes before the outbreak became public, was released to FOX Carolina by request.
According to the May 27 recording, the 24 minute conversation between the district and DHEC officials was meant to focus on the growing concerns and questions from the public about the outbreak.
On the recording, Superintendent Dr. Mark Petersen said of the tuberculosis investigation, "We've had this going on for several months now, and obviously it's important for me to notify our staff and notify our community that we've got some issues they need to be informed about."
In the call FOX Carolina received, Petersen's questions on notification aren't answered. Instead, DHEC officials pressed Peterson and the district for more questions.
At one point during the conversation, a DHEC official can be heard saying, "Fortunately, or unfortunately, you're supplying us with some information we previously didn't have."
"The answers were already there," said lawyer John Reckenbeil. "And what I mean by that is the information was already there at least a month before that phone conversation."
Reckenbeil represents three fired DHEC nurses from the Upstate that say they were blamed and fired after a botched tuberculosis investigation. The nurses - Malinda Martin, Latrinia Richard, and Anne Ashley - are all now suing DHEC for wrongful termination.
Reckenbeil said it's evident from the tone of the conversation with DHEC that state officials never realized the severity of the outbreak, which is backed up with emails attached to the wrongful termination lawsuits he's filed.
"It goes to show that they completely ignored the information provided by my clients," said Reckenbeil.
In an interview last week with FOX Carolina, DHEC State Director Catherine Templeton acknowledged the ball was dropped.
"Things sat, things sat for a month that should not have," said Templeton, who said she stands by the firings of Martin, Richard and Ashley.
State lawmakers are due to be looking into the handling of the tuberculosis Aug. 8 in Columbia.
Copyright 2013 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All Rights Reserved.
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