Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Carmel on the Case: School Mold
Most South Florida students may be out for the holidays. But tonight the Broward County School System is facing more mold issues. Seven news has learned mold is being blamed for the health problems of a Nova Middle School teacher. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- The Broward County School System is spending tens of millions of dollars to clean up mold problems in multiple schools.
But Nova Middle School in Davie is not one of them. Teacher Fanny Fierro believes it should be.
Fanny Fierro: Things just kept getting worse and worse and a lot of upper respiratory problems.
She is convinced her school made her sick. She took pictures last March, and she says this is where science teachers ate lunch, just steps away from a refrigerator that had mold growing on the outside.
Fanny Fiero: "Over the summer the symptoms would clear up and then once I started school, it just gradually started coming back."
So this science teacher decided to conduct her own test. Using a kit, she took air samples and sent them off to be analyzed.
The results: molds known to cause allergic reactions were in the air. She says she told her principal.
Fanny Fierro: "He just dismissed it like if it wasn't anything important and told me it was just dirt."
But Fierro's doctor disagrees. He signed this disability claim that shows she suffers from asthma - toxic mold syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome.
This is just some of the medicine prescribed for her in the last year. The 30-year-old says she had no choice but to quit teaching.
Fanny Fierro: I put a lot of time and effort into my work and I really love what I do and I love my students. It was just very heartbreaking to find out that the school was responsible."
This video was taken over the summer when Fierro went back to school to collect some of her belongings.
The refrigerator was still there with much more mold growing on the outside and along the seal.
School spokesperson Keith Bromery says Fierro's complaint was investigated and her classroom was cleared.
Keith Bromwery: "Ah, looked at the room. Did an investigation, looked at the baseboard, the walls and the ceilings the air conditioning ducting and they didn't find any evidence of any mold, mildew or any other kind of contamination."
He was not impressed by Fierro's photos of the refrigerator.
Keith Bromery: "Well if in fact they are what they purport to be, but I don't know that that's the case so I wouldn't know whether they're inside this building or someplace else."
Carmel Cafiero: "And we can't go inside?"
Keith Bromery: "No."
Carmel Cafiero: "To see?"
Keith Bromery: "No."
Currently 31 mold lawsuits are pending against the Broward School District. The lawyer handling those cases says his office is hearing about new problem schools almost every week.
Attorney Scott Gelfand: "We're finding that there are scores of other schools in Broward county where this problem exists."
This debate could end up in court. Scott Gelfand says he expects to file more mold lawsuits and Nova Middle may be one of them.
For more information, or if you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or In Broward at 954- 921-CLUE