The River Reporter
February 23, 2006

Letters To The Editor

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 forward.

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.

Padma Dyvine
Liberty, NY