Drum Point School Mold Cleaned; Parents Trust Lost [AUDIO]
NEW JERSEY 101.5
Even though the mold is gone from Drum Point Elementary in Brick Township, many parents are left with a bad taste in their mouth through the entire process.
During a special board meeting Wednesday night, members of the board, as well as representatives from Manasquan-based Brinkerhoff Environmental Services, said based on a report issued by them Sunday, air samples came back within acceptable levels for mold.
Brick Township School Board member Ed Reid also assured parents that preventative measures were being taken to thwart future mold growth, which was attributed to condensation from high humidity.
In addition to quarterly mold inspections, 36 dehumidifiers have been installed in the classrooms and building, as well as temperature and humidity gauges, which will be monitored regularly.
However, the roughly 75 member audience, mostly parents, was mostly concerned about the district not closing the building while remediation was taking place.
Parents said that during an earlier meeting on October 30th, Superintendent Walter Uszenski assured them the school would be closed. However, Uszenski said he told them he would consider the idea, instead opting to bring in more workers to complete the remediation while teachers were at their annual convention and building was closed.
"We were being told the school was being closed down, we gave the Superintendent kudos. We were very happy, we shook his hand. But, on the following day, we get a notice that tells us the school is staying open," said Brick parent Michelle Casqueira.
Numerous parents felt slighted by the move to keep the school open, blaming mold for allergies, asthma attacks, and headaches in their children prior to and during the remediation process.
They also pointed to the severe increase of absences during the cleanup as a reason for closing the building. There were over 140 absences during the remediation period, as opposed to the usual amount between 20 and 30.
Brick mother Patrice Gallo said she was appalled to see remediation being done while students were in the building.
"I chaired a harvest dance at the school with 178 kids with men in hazmat suits in a different hallway, and I was not made aware of that," she said.
The district has spent $575,000 this school year on mold remediation at Drum Point Elementary, Brick Memorial High School, and the Educational Enrichment Center.
They are considering ways to pay for repairs to the school buildings, including a new HVAC system at Drum Point Elementary which can cost into the millions of dollars.
Board President Sharon Cantillo told the audience a committee is looking at "creative ways" to come up with the money.
Meanwhile, parents warn others it could happen to any school across the state or country, and to heed the warning signs.
"I would tell any mother, you need to know where your child is and demand that tests be taken if you feel something is wrong," Gallo said..
Casqueira regrets not listening to her daughters more intently when they complained of headaches and other ailments.
"If they're not feeling well, listen to them, ask questions. 'What does your locker look like? What do you see when you're in school?'"