My View - Mold in the Schools
I was at the Liberty Board of Education meeting on February 13. A group
of very concerned parents and citizens has been pushing the board for
almost a year to address the issue of children and staff getting sick
in the three schools. This board is now claiming that it is doing
something, but let’s look at what they are, in fact, doing.
For 13 years, the custodial staff has been “fixing” the problems of
mold by replacing ceiling tiles, pulling up rugs and trying to stop
water incursions. But teachers and custodial staff have been getting
sick for years, without knowing why. The board of education, in private
session, approved the retirement of the librarian, who became sick
while doing her job in the leaking middle school library. I believe
many teachers are now intimidated and fear for their jobs if they come
At the board of education meeting on December 12, 2005, there was a
large group of people who wanted to have input in the public
participation portion. The president closed the question-and-answer
period after a couple of questions. Instead, the president and board
should be actively soliciting questions and participation from the
community they represent.
They hired building scientists to do a minimal structural study rather
than hire certified industrial hygienists, who sign a code of ethics.
They were given names of people with decades of experience, certified
industrial hygienists and toxicologists, who never agree to compromise
or ignore the health of building occupants, but they didn’t use them.
Both the president of the board, David Burke, and the superintendent of
schools, Larry Clarke, refused to allow anyone to videotape the
presentation by consulting firm Camroden during the open session. This
frustrated parents who wanted to have accurate records of the report by
Camroden. Please note that earlier in the public portion of the
meeting, parents were allowed to video student presentations to the
public and students receiving awards.
When a parent complained that she had not been told of any water
incursions, preventing her from making informed decisions about sending
her child to school, the superintendent noted that water is used for
cleaning, and said all problems were being taken care of. He did not
address the right of parents to make decisions on behalf of their own
children for their children’s health.
A public meeting was held on January 20 outside the school. The four
board members, whose seats are up for election, were invited. Many
community members showed up, but only the president of the board did.
What about the health and safety of our children, whose bodies are
growing and are most susceptible to the effects of the mold and
mycotoxins that were demonstrated to be present six months ago? How can
a 13-year-old problem be “fixed” without stopping the water
incursions—something that has not happened? I am wondering how Camroden
came up with a clean bill of health for the schools. And I am disturbed
that they say remediation is not necessary, without bothering to do air
testing. I am concerned that they admitted they don’t know much about
the relationship between mold and human health.
Meanwhile, our children and teachers are in a clearly unsafe building
by definition, according to the National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Institute
of Medicine and all credible authorities: it is a very wet building
that has grown mold.