Concerns growing over mold in south Charlotte high school

Concern from parents is growing after photos of what appeared to be mold on the ceiling in air vents of Providence High School surfaced online.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Concerns are growing about mold inside a south Charlotte high school after photos surfaced online.

Pictures of what looked like mold on the ceiling and air vents of Providence High School caused concern to grow faster than the fungus.

School officials said they tested and inspected the school, and they didn't find any mold, but they ran tests again because of the concerns.

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“We’ll come up with an action plan to address that, but right now, we don’t have any evidence that there’s mold and that the kids are in any way in harm’s way,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox.

Some parents online claimed their kids are getting sick, while others went so far as to threaten to pull their students out of school.

On Wednesday night, Wilcox met with concerned parents and revealed, after another round of testing, one out of 12 classrooms that were professionally tested did come back with elevated levels of mold.

Some parents said those results would be higher, but CMS had the school deep cleaned before the recent mold testing was done.

"Anything that could have been a problem was taken care of. Then they brought in professionals who then looked around and didn't see anything," said parent Brian Kasher.

"I don't think parents have to think that we're trying to cover something up. We were simply trying to act and quite frankly in thinking the conversation would be very different, people say, 'Well you're sitting on your hands, and you didn't do anything.' And so it's a situation where you're damned if you do, damned if you don't," said Wilcox.

The superintendent said even more testing will be done.

Prior to Wednesday night's meeting, Providence principal Tracey Harrill sent a letter to parents, saying in part, “Building services personnel including environment specialists have inspected every classroom, closet, storage, room, etc.”

“No mold accumulation has been found at Providence,” Harrill said.

Dear Providence Families:

I wanted to provide follow-up information regarding recent concerns about a possible air quality issue at school. A few parents have specifically asked about mold. Building Services personnel including environmental specialists have inspected every classroom, closet, storage room, etc. No mold accumulation has been found at Providence. CMS follows the protocol recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This protocol does not recommend testing for mold since mold is naturally found within the environment, our homes, etc. The EPA recommendation is that sampling is unnecessary since there are no EPA, state or local threshold limits set for mold or mold spores. As the EPA explains, “the key to mold control is moisture control.”

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Therefore, the initial step at Providence was to contract with a 3rd party vendor to conduct an assessment for moisture, humidity, carbon monoxide, temperature, etc. As I informed you earlier this week, the results from the 3rd party vendor show that all areas fell within the normal rage and show “no evidence of current or previous moisture or debris accumulation.”

Our Superintendent, in an effort to go above and beyond the recommendations of the EPA, has been clear that additional testing will be done to make sure we have covered all bases. CMS has contracted with another 3rd party vendor to conduct sampling which will include mold spore sampling. Once we have those results, I will update you on any further actions being taken.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Dr. Harrill

Last time health inspectors were at the school, they found no evidence of mold, but that was 10 months ago.

“Mold exposure can be somewhat dangerous,” said Dr. Maeve O’Connor.

She says if there is mold in the school, most kids would be unharmed.

“Somebody who doesn’t have an allergy or an immune system that has issues, there really isn’t cause for alarm,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said school leaders shouldn’t take any chances.

“I think a school that has mold in it should do their due diligence,” O’Connor said. “Because there are so many different types of students, so you might have some students who are allergic to mold, who upon exposure may get sneezing, itchy eyes, wheezing, coughing, and itching of the skin.”