Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Carmel on the Case: School Mold
With the first day of school around the corner - most parents are busy buying new clothes and school supplies. But for others - the concern is "Sick Schools" and will the new year bring new health problems for their children. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case with pictures no one else can show you.
(WSVN) -- You're looking at the inside of Indian Trace Elementary School in Weston.
At the beginning of the summer, a parent documented conditions in classroom after classroom where wastebaskets were used to catch leaking water.
Mold was growing on water stained ceiling tiles.
In fact - mold was everywhere.
Even growing between the tiles on the floor.
ParentMary McFee says, "It's a disgrace. It's disgusting."
She adds, "I just felt there had to be some type of record of what was going on."
Mary McFee made the video.
Mary says, "When you see the tape, you'll even see that there are window frames that don't even meet up where you can put your fingers right into the outside."
Her daughter Heather was sick when she attended the school and now her younger daughter, Brook, is also having problems.
Mary says, "I'm furious and I think the school system should be held accountable."
She's the kind of parent Broward School Officials are facing more often these days.
Educated, informed and furious.
Michelle Miller says, "We're tired of all the lies...There's been a lot of condescending attitudes. And we're tired of it."
That was clear at a recent meeting with school board officials who are now promising a mold clean up.
Last year parents and staff say they were told Indian Trace - didn't have a problem.
Michelle says, "We know there's mold here. We know it's causing illness. We want that to end."
Indian Trace TeacherPam Davidson says, "Every year I come back and literally put on gloves and a mask and literally clean my own room because the room is crusted in gunk."
In this video,a teacher wiped what you could call gunk off a shelf at Indian Trace.
We took that cloth to Microbiologist John Pisani.
He found two dangerous moldsCurvularia and Aspergillus.
MicrobiologistJohn Pisani says, "Which is a heavy hitter. Not a good thing to have around."
Those molds can cause sinus infections, Pneumonia and respiratory infections.
Deputy Superintendent Jim Notter says air tests are scheduled.
He says, "That in fact, they will show up in the current testing that we're gonna do and we'll take the appropriate remedial action on that."
Ann Morrison says, "I would get hives every time I went in the building."
Ann Morrison is a teacher at Riverside Elementary in Coral Springs.
Last year, it became the classic example of mold problems in Broward schools and distrust between parents and the school board.
But after a massive clean-up over the summer - the school looks and smells fresh and clean.
Every room has had work.
More than half the walls were stripped down to bare block and replaced.
ParentMichael Oliver says, "We feel that they've done a lot of work obviously that they should have done last year, but we're not looking back."
This is the kind of mold that was growing on the old wallboard.
And while tests are being done to finally clear the school - Ann Morrison is hoping she and the students will enjoy a healthy New Year.
Ann Morrison, aRiverside Teacher, says, "I'm going to feel like the canary walking in, and I will just have to wait and see what my body tells me is going on in that building."
The mold clean up in Broward Schools is too-little, too-late, according to some parents and teachers. I have learned multiple lawsuits will be filed shortly - that will seek compensation for victims of sick schools.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
305-627-CLUE in Miami-Dade
954-921-CLUE in Broward