The third independent test conducted at Terrace Manor Elementary School has again showed the school has no mold issues or health hazards, according to results released Monday.
AXIS Remedial Sciences of Loganville, Ga., found no visible mold in the building as well as lower than typical mold spores in the air, which “would not cause symptoms of an allergen response in most people” from the inspection and air sampling on Nov. 5.
The testing was done in response to allegations from former Principal Hartley Gibbons that the school was infested with mold that was making teachers and students sick with asthma and other respiratory problems.
Gibbons retired Nov. 15, the day after being placed on administrative leave for an outburst at that week’s Richmond County Board of Education meeting where he yelled at board members for not allocating repair money to Terrace Manor and ignoring his concerns.
The school system had previously tested the school twice for mold and received similar results. Alternative Construction and Environmental Solutions, an environmental consultation and construction management firm, tested for moisture intrusion, the condition of painted surfaces, asbestos-containing materials and mold, and conducted a limited indoor air-quality analysis Sept. 17 and 19.
The firm concluded that all asbestos-containing materials were in good condition and said it found “no visible evidence of mold growth,” although no destructive or invasive inspecting was done, according to the report.
The East Central Health District also inspected the school Nov. 6 and found “no signs of any current mold issues within the school building,” according to a letter sent to Gibbons.
AXIS inspector J. Gordon Reynolds found no visible microbial growth and did not suggest employee relocation but found the HVAC return vents had visible accumulation of dust.
Although lab tests concluded the building is safe, some parents and teachers are still convinced there are serious health concerns causing people to become ill.
Terrace Manor PTA President Lois Hogden said headaches are frequent among staff members and most believe the mold has been painted over and more invasive testing should be done.
“I’m still concerned,” said Hogden, adding several parents have removed or transferred their children after Gibbon’s retirement. “People with asthma and students with stomach and head problems are still getting sick. Parents say close (the school) and clean it up. That’s what they say.”
Benton Starks, senior director of maintenance and facilities, said the AXIS test is consistent with the answers the district has already received that the school is safe. He previously said if the staff is becoming ill there is no evidence the building is the cause.
Gibbons did not return a call for comment Monday, but Hogden said the fight is not over.
“They’re very adament about it,” Hogden said. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. They’re just not backing down.”