MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County School board members received a petition this week signed by more than 500 peopling urging them to ‘fix the mold issue at Carolina Forest High School, Myrtle Beach High School and all our schools in Horry County.’
The petition was started two months ago and the online copy reveals multiple parents expressing their frustration and concern over the issue. Other parents also say they are worried the potential mold is impacting their students’ health.
Carolina Forest High School parent Erica Marks said her daughter is allergic to mold and started showing symptoms four days after school started.
“She started having symptoms of, you know, sniffles and running nose and coughing. So we had to start with the allergy treatment we do when she is exposed,” Marks explained.
Marks is one of the parents that took photos within the school during an open house last month.
“I had found some mold that was growing some fuzzies,” she said. “I was appalled. I actually couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
These photos were also sent to school board members this week.
Horry County School Board member David Cox didn’t immediately know about the petition but said it would be worth checking into.
Fellow board member Chad Hardwick said based on those photos there was a problem.
He said he discussed the petition and photos with the superintendent and fellow board member Neil James. Hardwick said he is waiting to hear a follow-up report on what the extent of the issue is and how employees can help prevent future issues.
Parents say this isn’t the first time they’ve brought this concern up and are tired of inaction.
“I think that is a blanket response. It’s generalized. They need to go in and fix the problem. It’s as simple as that,” said another Carolina Forest High parent, Crystal Porter. “The next step is fix it. Don’t give me a response like that, just tell me you’re going to fix it.”
Porter said she doesn’t think the district is taking these concerns seriously
“How much longer do our kids have to sit in a building that is dangerous for their health? How much longer do we have to put them through that?” Porter asked. “It’s not fair to our students.”
School board member Sherrie Todd said the district is constantly fighting mold and mildew within its facilities.
“We are fighting an uphill battle and we realize this. The only thing HCS can do is be as diligent as we can be and that is exactly what we are doing,” said Todd in an email to WMBF.
Last school year, the district spent months battling mold issues at St. James Elementary.
In August, the district announced it created new teams to monitor air quality.
“We have 15 team members, almost 600 hours of training. They are certified in mold and mildew assessment and remediation,” said district spokesperson Lisa Bourcier back in August.
The teams, which consist of HVAC technicians and nurses, received certification through a partnership with Horry-Georgetown Technical College. In addition, all HCS staff underwent some air quality training.
Board member Ray Winters said he is aware of the concerns at some schools and trusts the facilities department with the new protocols to address the concerns.
Marks, however, said during the high school open house she approached the principal who ‘had nothing to say about it.’
“Everybody is really hush hush about this,” she said. “The teachers look around them when you are questioning to see who is around and listening because apparently they get into trouble if they talk about the mold issue, so it’s really hard to get information from the staff on this.”
Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson said he wasn’t aware of the petition but did see photos taken within CFHS. He said as far as he is aware the facilities department has since gone into the school to fix the issue.
WMBF reached out to the district’s executive director of facilities and did not hear back. WMBF is also still waiting to learn if any testing was done at the high school in the last month, as well as what exact action has been taken or will be taken.
Parents said they hope real action is taken and that their concerns are taken seriously.
“I’m just hoping they can clear everything up and really take it upon themselves to take this seriously and prioritize what is important and their health is important so that should be number one,” Marks said.