Take a deep breath, Scranton taxpayers. Time to cough up the cost of chronic corruption.

The inevitable feeding frenzy of lawyers suing the Scranton School District for knowingly exposing students, faculty and staff to asbestos and lead contamination has begun. A long-time elementary school principal, a reading specialist and a retired maintenance worker hired a Philly law firm and filed the first of what will likely be many lawsuits against the sickly district.

Read Staff Writer Sarah Hofius Hall’s breaking news story here.

In a press release, William Prescott Elementary School Principal Albert P. O’Donnell and Rebecca M. O’Brien, a reading specialist at Northeast Intermediate, spoke to the responsibility past school boards and administrations shirked.

“I’ve served as principal of the 350-student Prescott Elementary for the past 16 years.,” O’Donnell said. “In that role, I’ve been responsible for the health and safety of countless children who are entrusted to me by their families. When I learned that their future health could be jeopardized by the conduct of the district, I felt I had a duty to protect them and seek district-wide health monitoring for them.”

“Since the disclosures about these hazards, I decided that it was important that someone stand up and do what’s right for children and the safety of my colleagues,” O’Brien said.

the retired maintenance worker, George Gevaras, spoke for many veteran district employees who didn’t know they were working in potentially poisonous buildings.

“I’m scared,” he said. “Now I find out that the paint and plaster, old flooring and insulation I was told to remove — without being given a mask or eye protection — could make me very sick. I’m worried for me, my family and all the children.”

I’m not a lawyer, but this seems like the easiest verdict in legal history. District officials knew about the contamination and did not act or warn students, parents or employees. Employees who brought their concerns to the administration were ignored, and the plaintiffs have documents to prove it.

Lawsuits are defined by damages. So are school districts bleeding out from self-inflicted wounds.