Potential mold issue at Ashley is discussed

Potential mold issue at Ashley is discussed
April 12
05:00 2018

The Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV) and the Winston-Salem NAACP recently held a meeting at Dellabrook Presbyterian Church to discuss the potential mold issue at Ashley Elementary School.

School staff, community leaders and concerned citizens came out to Dellabrook to try and find answers to why the potential mold issue at the school is persists. According to Ashley employees who attended, mold has been present at the school for nearly a decade but the issue has continued to manifest over the years.

Earlier this year students and staff complained about breathing and upper respiratory issues bringing the issue back to light. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System has sent in crews to assess the extent of the mold but the community is not satisfied with the progress the school is making on the matter.

Darrell Walker, Forsyth County assistant superintendent, says they have hired two independent companies to test various locations of the school to try to find a presence of hazardous mold. He stated that most buildings have mold but the determination they are trying to reach here is to see whether or not the children are being harmed.

The initial results from the first company showed the mold levels were not high enough to endanger the children. They are currently waiting on the results from the second company to either confirm or dispel the claims of hazardous mold.

Rev. Dr. Carl Manuel Jr. of the MCWSV says he has attended several school board meetings. He said they informed him that they “were still working on it” but did not have any specific information that would spell out the exact course of action that will be taken to rectify the issue.
“Based on the meeting that I attended with the superintendent and the maintenance director for the school system, they said they would have to close the school down because they could not do the necessary work while the kids and staff were present,” Manuel stated.

“So they said they plan to do those things during the summer by putting in new units,” he continued.

Walker stated that they have performed cleanings of the ducts at Ashley to remove any types of contaminants that are present. He wanted to make sure the parents and community members are aware they want to be transparent throughout the process. He feels it would be premature to move the students to other schools before the testing has been completed because there is no place to move the entire population, which would disrupt the children’s learning environment.
Rev. Dr. Carlton Eversly, senior pastor of Dellabrook Presbyterian, also attended the meeting. He said the safety of the children and staff of Ashley Elementary should be paramount on everyone’s list.

“Our concern would be whether or not the school board and the senior administration have the same sense of urgency around the children at Ashley as they had around the children at Hanes/Lowrance with the major differences between those two groups being around race and social economic status,” said Eversly.
“That’s our job as community organizations is to make sure that our elected and appointed officials have the same sense of urgency for poor black and brown children as they had for middle class and upper middle class white children,” he went on to say.

In February 2015, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools board voted to move the students from Hanes and Lowrance Middle Schools off their site in response to concerns about safety at the site. This was because of a vapor intrusion from chemicals in the soil, although a consultant determined that those vapors were not at significant levels.
That move took place on March 2.

Hanes Magnet school was moved to two different places.

The sixth-graders were moved to Smith Farm Elementary, while the seventh- and eighth-graders moved to the former Hill Middle School, which hadn’t been used since the school merged with Philo Middle in 2012-2013.

Lowrance Middle moved to Atkins High School.

Rev. Alvin Carlisle, president of the Winston-Salem NAACP chapter, says he wants the parents of Ashley Elementary to be up to date with all of the information and potential hazards that their children face when they go into the school building. He says the parents and the organizations fighting for their children have to work “hand in hand.”

He feels that a plan needs to be put in place to put pressure on the school board to find a resolution to this issue at the school. He wants the parents of the school to know they have people “fighting for the health of the children in that building.”

“Our group is resolute and we will not stop until we see some real change happen at Ashley,” said Carlisle.

Walker says once the final results have been released they will take the necessary steps if there are some to be made.

For any parents who would like to contact the group for more information or updates about the potential mold issue at Ashley, call (336) 767-3470.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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