Mold Concerns In Knox Co. Schools

By: Jessa Goddard
By: Jessa Goddard

Knoxville (WVLT) A group of parents says sending your children into Knox County schools everyday is the equivalent of sending them into a burning building.

The problem, they say, toxic levels of mold in the classrooms.

Knox County school officials say mold spores are everywhere, and the can't get rid of them entirely.

But they are working to fix problem areas.

Melanie Lucas says her son, Samuel, should be at school with the rest of his fourth grade class at Farragut Intermediate.

Instead, he's at home, and has been, since August 27th, sick from exposure to toxic levels of mold.

"I would go to school, he would have severe nosebleeds and he would get them there, and i would have to bring him home or take him to the doctor from there."

To address the growing problem of mold in the classroom, Knox County school officials added an environmental services supervisor to their maintenance staff.

Specifically to take samples, test and report mold spore counts.

Rob Riley, the Knox Co. Environmental Services Sup. says, "I can take airborne levels. I take air samples, and I can also take swab samples or surface samples and i send those to a third party lab to get analyzed."

Riley says just like outdoor mold spore counts vary daily.

Levels inside the classroom can vary, too, and they're doing their best to accommodate every student.

"With 50,000 and something students, I guess we have, there is going to be a small percentage that we're not going to be able to help."

Lucas says she has a problem with that, because her son actually isn't even allergic to mold, and he wouldn't be sick unless levels were hazardously high.

"We take precautions with the kind of food that they're allowed to eat, why are we exposing them to toxic mold everyday?"

Lucas and some other parents and teachers have organized a group called the Indoor Air Quality Awareness Team to convince Knox County school leaders to take immediate and drastic action.

In the meantime, Samuel will remain home schooled, and Melanie says, for the time being, healthy.

Lucas says she began to suspect mold was a problem five years ago, when some of Samuel's classmates at A.L. Lotts were experiencing the same symptoms as him.

Knox county school officials dispute that there is an ongoing mold problem at any one school, and say they address complaints and correct them on a regular basis.


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