Peoria parents confront school officials with evidence of classroom mold

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A meeting between parents and Deer Valley Unified School District officials turned heated Monday tonight, over fears of mold in an elementary school.

Late Monday night, school officials decided to move classes out of the school.

In a letter to parents, school officials wrote:

At the conclusion of the meeting, it was determined in the best interest of students, teachers and parents of Terramar, school will be in session at an alternative site. Students that come to Terramar in the morning will be relocated to Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV) for September 16th and 17th.

Terramar Elementary, near 70th Avenue and Happy Valley Road, is a relatively new school, but it has a chronic problem with leaks when storms move through.

School officials say, despite their best efforts, contractors have been unable to solve the water leakage problem over the years.

While school officials say their air quality tests last week came back clear, parents insist the school has a major mold problem.

Of the 850 students at the school, 180 stayed home on Monday.

Lisa Best, who runs the Parent Teacher Student Association, paid to have her own tests run on samples of classroom walls.

"We ran four samples, and the lab found seven kinds of mold, including black mold.  I was disgusted and sick to my stomach," Best told 3TV.

She also reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency.  A mold expert with the EPA responded immediately, telling her the parents' concerns are valid.

Best presented her findings, pictures of mold, and a Petri dish to school officials at a meeting Monday.  Other parents in the crowd, which filled the gymnasium, grew angry.

"Withholding information from us doesn't sit well," one man said to the school officials up front.

"We did not find any mold growing," a district official responded.

"The air quality tests came back cleaner than the air we breathe outside," he added.

The Deer Valley District will run further tests.

The entire district letter to parents is below:

A community meeting was held at Terramar School tonight in the multipurpose room to discuss issues regarding water damages and reported inquiries of mold growing inside our classrooms. At the conclusion of the meeting, it was determined in the best interest of students, teachers and parents of Terramar, school will be in session at an alternative site. Students that come to Terramar in the morning will be relocated to Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV) for September 16th and 17th
Buses will be transporting students directly to CCV. Students that walk to school or dropped off by parents should arrive at Terramar by 8:15 a.m. All students will be held in the multipurpose room until they are moved to the alternative site. We want to inform you of these changes in order for you to plan accordingly for the next two days. Sack lunches will be provided for all students.
Students will be relocated while additional testing and remediation is conducted by independent organizations. We have contacted a parent and general manager that spoke at the meeting to conduct air quality and mold testing. 
Please note this will not be a typical educational day. Your child will receive an excused absence if you choose to keep him or her out of school at this time.  We want to thank parents for attending the meeting and for your flexibility as we work together to resolve this important issue.
We want to ensure you we are working with the parent group organizations and will remain committed to keeping you informed of our progress. If you have questions, please feel free to contact the front office at 623-445-7600.