CMS superintendent addresses mold issue at school

CMS superintendent addresses mold issue at school

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox attended a meeting Wednesday night at Providence High School to address the mold issue and indoor air quality concerns.

Parents at the school said mold is making their children sick.

“I walked the facility,” Wilcox said. “I visited. I had my team come over and look at it and then we decided to act.”

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Wilcox told parents that action included tests for air moisture, a massive cleanup, then tests for mold.

The results are from an air moisture test conducted on Dec. 14 that indicated excess moisture was not observed.

“If there is a problem, I haven't seen it,” teacher Deborah Monroy said. “We certainly haven’t been told not to talk about it, but what worries me as a teacher, is that children are coming in full of drama.”

Parents questioned why the district would clean the school before testing for mold.

“When you walk around and you see very clean ceiling tiles, brand new, they’re surrounded by dirty ones, ones that have been there for years, you know, they've changed that ceiling tile,” parent Brian Kasher said.

“If this is a condition that we didn't cure, we're going to address it going forward, so I don’t think parents have to think that we're trying to cover something up,” the superintendent said.

Providence HS parents raise concerns about mold after students get sick

There are serious fears about mold inside Providence High School in south Charlotte.

Channel 9 started investigating the issue after parents reached out last week and said that Charlotte-Mecklenburg school officials were looking into potential air quality issues at the school.

Channel 9 was sent pictures from inside Providence High School.

Brian Kasher, a parent at Providence High School and the former manager of Environmental Health and Safety for CMS, told Channel 9 that fellow parents have reached out to him because their students are getting sick at school.

“The parents that I’ve spoken with are parents of athletic stars. I mean, these are healthy, robust children who want to go to Providence so bad, but their bodies won’t let them enter the building,” Kasher said. “The school doesn’t have to be the source of their illness, but it can contribute significantly and push a child or faculty member over the edge.”

Kasher gave Channel 9 an email sent Thursday from the school principal to parents. The email recognizes concerns about “a possible air quality issue” and “mold.”

But the email said that after the inspection, “no mold accumulation has been found” and tests for moisture, humidity, carbon monoxide and temperature were all normal.

The email also cites recommendations from the Environmental Protection Agency as saying, “This protocol does not recommend testing for mold since mold is naturally found within the environment, there are no EPA, state or local threshold limits.”

Kasher said he has serious concerns about that response.

“It completely mischaracterizes advice to school districts from the U.S. EPA,” Kasher said. “The U.S. EPA does not recommend sampling for the mold, if a visual finding of mold is represent; in other words, if mold is there, use your money to clean it up, don’t test for it.”

The email from the school principal to parents went on to say there will be additional testing, including mold sampling.

A meeting will be held Wednesday at Providence High School with Superintendent Clayton Wilcox and parents regarding the indoor air quality concerns.

Read entire email from principal:

Dear Providence Families:

I wanted to provide follow-up information regarding recent concerns about a possible air quality issue at school.  A few parents have specifically asked about mold. Building Services personnel including environmental specialists have inspected every classroom, closet, storage room, etc. No mold accumulation has been found at Providence.  CMS follows the protocol recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  This protocol does not recommend testing for mold since mold is naturally found within the environment, our homes, etc. The EPA recommendation is that sampling is unnecessary since there are no EPA, state or local threshold limits set for mold or mold spores.  As the EPA explains, “the key to mold control is moisture control.”

Therefore, the initial step at Providence was to contract with a 3rd party vendor to conduct an assessment for moisture, humidity, carbon monoxide, temperature, etc.  As I informed you earlier this week, the results from the 3rd party vendor show that all areas fell within the normal rage and show “no evidence of current or previous moisture or debris accumulation.”  

Our Superintendent, in an effort to go above and beyond the recommendations of the EPA, has been clear that additional testing will be done to make sure we have covered all bases.  CMS has contracted with another 3rd party vendor to conduct sampling which will include mold spore sampling.  Once we have those results, I will update you on any further actions being taken. 

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Dr. Harrill