Complaints of mold close city school

Leaky library roof leads to problems at facility

April 27, 2004|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,SUN STAFF

A West Baltimore elementary school will be closed today amid complaints that a leaking roof is causing mold problems.

Officials offered different explanations for why Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary will not be open.

Vanessa Pyatt, a school system spokeswoman, said the 400-pupil school will be closed so the library's leaky roof can be sealed off.

But officials based at the school said the building is being closed so that city health officials can investigate whether mold in the library has spread throughout the building through air ducts.

Vice Principal Balgit Ramsundar and Phyllis Lloyd, the school librarian, said that the library roof has been leaking for years and that the library has been closed since Thanksgiving, when ceiling tiles started falling. They said they moved library materials to a spare classroom.

They said they have long appealed for help from school officials but got their attention only after two City Council members, Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. and Catherine E. Pugh, toured the school Friday and started making phone calls.

"What I saw would shock you," Mitchell said, describing the shuttered library and strong moldy smell.

Pyatt said the school, at 507 W. Preston St., has been undergoing major roof repairs for some time. She said she is not aware of any problems with mold. If there is a concern, she said, the system "would do the necessary air quality tests." She said the school is expected to reopen tomorrow. Staff members were to report to West Baltimore Middle School today.

Mitchell and Pugh described problems at the school last night at a council meeting, which Ramsundar and more than a dozen parents and teachers attended to be recognized for rising test scores.

Sun staff writer Liz Bowie contributed to this article.

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