Indian River County School District fires back against media articles alleging mold problem

Indian River County School District fires back against media articles alleging mold problem

FELLSMERE, Fla. -- The Indian River County School District is fighting back after district leaders say a local print media organization wrongly reported the extent of a mold issue at an elementary school.

Superintendent Mark Rendell says Vero Beach 32963 painted a picture in recent articles that the school wasn't properly addressing mold concerns at Fellsmere Elementary School. Rendell says that simply is not the case.

Meanwhile, representatives at the paper stand by the articles they have published.

The school district called for a meeting with parents Wednesday in light of the articles describing a mold problem.

Nearly 100 people packed the school's cafeteria, including parents, students and teachers wanting to have their concerns addressed.

"I thought the school was in good condition. Now, I don't know," said parent Maria Macias.

"There were some reports that we weren't responding to work order requests, that there was a mold infestation at the school, that conditions weren't safe and kids were getting sick and that kind of thing," Rendell explained.

In light of those articles, the school district released the last two years worth of work order requests by teachers and school staff, searching for anything with the word 'mold'.

18 reports came up from February 2014 to February 2016.

Of those reports, 3 came up requesting service to 'molding', or a baseboard.

4 were requests to check for suspected mold. The district says those were inspected, and unfounded.

The district says 7 turned into equipment repairs, following reports that monitors to detect humidity were faulty, or that there was too much moisture in the air.

The district says 2 others were house keeping issues in 2014.

Some listed complaints of students and teachers feeling ill in their classrooms, which was never proven to be tied to mold. One order lists the symptoms could be dust related.

Rendell says no mold was ever found following a work order request in the last two years.

Mold was found, however, following regular inspections, according to school staff.

That included a patch of mold behind a white board in 2016 that was not properly installed, according to the district.

There were also reports of a mold spot in the cafeteria. Both were quickly addressed this year, Rendell said.

But Vero Beach 32963 still stands by their articles, detailing the delays they dealt with to get public records from the school.

They also cite numerous anonymous sources that described a mold problem. The paper claimed their anonymous sources were hesitant to bring their concerns directly to the school.

District leaders gave parents a tour of the school Wednesday night.

Rendell also addressed concerns of flooding and leaking in a newly constructed building at the school.

The district confirmed there was an issue with water seeping through stucco, causing flooding on the first floor. The district blamed that on poor construction. Rendell said that costly construction mishap is being corrected. It has not lead to the formation of mold, according to the district.

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