Plans for Bennettsville Intermediate School change following concerns over possible mold

BENNETTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Third and fourth graders at Bennettsville Intermediate School will stay in their classrooms despite an outcry from parents.

That was the decision made Monday night at a special meeting of the Marlboro County School Board. Fifth graders, however, will move to Clio Elementary Middle School.

Over the past few weeks, many have been saying the conditions in the school have caused their kids to get sick. There have been allegations that mold is present.

Monday's announcement comes just two weeks after the school board made the choice to have the students moved. People with concerns from the other side of the argument prompted the board to change their minds, but not without lots of discussion.

"Children are sick. Children are really sick, and if that's not the No. 1 priority, being inconvenienced does not matter," board member Nan Fleming said.

Fellow board member Danny Driggers felt differently about proposed solutions to the issue.

"To sit here and say we need to tear down that school and move everybody out, I kind of think that's a little bit overboard," Driggers said. "That's my opinion."

Parents of third and fourth graders will have the option to have their kids transferred if they want. Still, some remained unhappy with that decision.

"Those kids need to come out of that school," parent Diane Terry said. "They're getting sick, and it's no good."

"They seem like they want to risk the children's lives, and I don't understand it," parent Keith Berwington said.

Board chair Lucy Parsons said Monday night's decision is one people should be satisfied with because other options just don't make sense.

"It's not necessary for us to build a school for something that can be tended to medically for a small number of students," Parsons said. "You can't spend taxpayer money that way."

Bennettsville Intermediate had an air quality test done months ago. It came back negative for mold, so the district had another test done this month since so many parents were still adamant the school caused their kids' sicknesses.

The results of that second test just came back Monday and was still negative for mold. The report said there was no reason to move the students out of the school based on the conditions.

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