Sabrina Bates, Chief Staff Writer
Thursday May 14, 2009
Plaintiffs against the Weakley County Board of Education have added fraud to their list of accusations surrounding the issue of “toxic mold” at two local schools.
In a press release sent out by Attorney Larry Parrish’s office, his client Carol Hinman of Martin on behalf of her school-age children has amended a suit against the board to include fraud.
“Plaintiffs allege that the Board of Education denied that a mold problem existed at Westview (High School), when, in fact, the Board of Education knew of the mold problem as early as 1998, when memos, issued in 1998 and 1999 discuss, ‘heavy mold … evident on the gym concrete bleacher areas’ and ‘numerous ceiling tiles stained from condensation,’” the release cites.
According to the release, the county’s board of education sued H&M Construction, Fleming Associates/Architects P.C. and Hughes Mechanical Contractor, Inc. in April of 2000 claiming March 13, 1998, employees noticed substantial moisture problems and high humidity levels inside the Westview High School building.
Allegedly the moisture and high humidity levels “caused microbial growth, mildew and mold throughout the school” damaging the structure, plumbing and contents.
The issue of mold-like substances within the local high school was made public when students staged a protest in 2007 with signs that claimed mold was making them sick.
Two separate lawsuits were filed against the Weakley County Board of Education by parents of former WHS students alleging toxic mold within the structure has made their children sick.
Julie Joost, mother of Caleb Joost and Hinman, mother of Dominique and Griffin Pochop are seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the board for their children’s alleged contact with mold.
Memos dating back to July 1998 and July 1999 from Fleming Associates, an architect company located in Memphis, and addressed to Weakley County Director of Schools Richard Barber, Westview High School Principal David Byars and maintenance employees cites mold intrusion as a result of an HVAC unit malfunction at the school was discussed among those present at the meetings.
Last year, 27th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge William Acree ordered the board to perform a summer remediation of mold within the school building and a third party inspection of WHS as well as Martin Middle School.
On Monday, May 18, a number of different entities are scheduled to appear in a court hearing at 9 a.m. in Weakley County before Acree as the battle over mold growth within the two schools continues.