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CBS 2 Exclusive Investigation: NYC’s Moldy Classrooms

Under Pressure, United Federation Of Teachers Conducts Inspection Of P.S. 165
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Teachers at a school in Morningside Heights have come forward to speak up about mold in New York City public schools.

“I think it’s time to speak out, and I think that parents know, and people come forward and something is done,” an employee recently told CBS 2’s John Schriffen.

That employee works at P.S. 165 in Manhattan and did not want her identity to be revealed. She said that she came forward because the school is making her sick and she wants everyone to know.

Parents are now learning what the employee told CBS 2 she has complained about for years: headaches, fatigue and tightening of the chest, all symptoms that she blames on mold.

“When you go outside and you get fresh air and then you go back in you realize immediately that where you’re working or learning on a day-to-day basis is really unhealthy,” she said.

The United Federation of Teachers agrees with her. It has received so many complaints about the air quality at the school, on 109th Street near Broadway, that it is conducted an inspection of the building for mold.

CBS 2 obtained a copy of its report, which found more than a dozen areas in the school that had water damage and visible mold growth. Affected areas include the stairwell, classrooms and the guidance counselor’s office.

The inspection was conducted in December. Since then, New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has said that everything has been cleaned up.

“There isn’t any mold, and we addressed the issue of the mold,” he said recently.

A follow-up report issued by the same inspector one month later found that leaks from the roof had continued and caused visible water damage in multiple rooms.

“We’re working on any type of issues with fixing whatever types of leaks are taking place. But there isn’t any mold,” Walcott said.

But there is concern about the remaining water damage, concern that it is only a matter of time before the mold comes back.

When CBS 2 showed the report to parents, none had any idea that mold was ever found in the school.

“I’m very concerned, yeah. I mean he’s 5 so that’s, uh, yeah, not good,” said one parent who saw the report.

Schriffen: “As a parent how does that make you feel?

Parent: “Not safe, and my son is a sick child.”

Schriffen: “What’s wrong with your son?”

Parent: “My son, he has asthma.”

CBS 2 asked why parents had not been notified that there was mold found in the school.

“Ah, to our knowledge the report was issued, we took care of it,” Walcott said.

What do you think about the possibility of your child spending the day in a moldy classroom? Let us know in our comments section below…