City looking into mold problem at elementary school in Brooklyn

May 02, 2001|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

Problems with mold and gnats at Maree Garnett Farring Elementary School are being addressed, and an environmental study will be conducted there, said Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the city's health commissioner.

Parents who kept their children out of the school in the Brooklyn section of the city last week because they said the mold had given the pupils headaches and caused fatigue welcomed the move.

"We've recommended an environmental study of the school within the next 10 days," Beilenson said. He wasn't sure how much the study would cost. He also said he was not sure what type of mold was at the school - where officials removed two ceiling tiles with mold on Friday - but reiterated that he doesn't think the mold caused the children's illnesses.

However, Beilenson said he wanted to tackle the problem, because the mold and gnats angered parents.

Helen Williams Mielke, a parent who has called health department officials about the problem, said she has been assured that the mold has been cleaned up, but she wants documentation.

She kept her daughter, Crystal, 10, a fourth-grader, out of school on Thursday, Friday and Monday.

On Thursday, 35 pupils protested the school's conditions by doing their classwork on concrete outside the school. They sat on blankets, were supervised by their parents and ate lunch outside. Mielke's daughter returned to school yesterday.

"I was told it was unlawful for her to be out of school because of the mold," Mielke said yesterday.

"I believe the mold made them sick because my daughter is not a sickly child, and she was getting headaches the whole time," Mielke said. "If not the mold, the filth of the school made them sick."

This week, children are taking the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, or MSPAP, test. Mielke said a health department official told her yesterday that workers cannot finish the cleanup at the school until after the MSPAP is administered.

"I haven't gotten anything in writing," she said. "Until I get something in writing, I won't be satisfied."

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