Katy, TX – A group of Katy school district parents who said their children have lingering illnesses related to mold removed from an elementary school called Thursday for school officials to re-examine the cause.
About 10 parents at West Memorial Elementary School said their children’s symptoms ranged from skin rash, nose bleeds, stomach pains and asthma.
They said their children are still getting sick at the school, which was rebuilt and reopened this fall after being shut down in March for mold removal.
The parents were kept off the school grounds by school district police Thursday afternoon, while they were waiting to speak with school officials and news reporters. Three school district police officers monitored them for 3 1/2 hours outside the school, parent Helen Ericksen said.
“We were very disappointed and humiliated to be kicked out of campus and intimidated by the officers who had watched us the whole time we were there,” she said.
More than 100 West Memorial pupils reportedly had renewed symptoms associated with mold since school started, Ericksen said. Tuesday, six teachers who reportedly complained of stomach problems had to leave early, she said.
Tom Crowe, deputy superintendent, said he could not confirm the number of people sick nor if there were any teachers ill.
“Like any elementary schools, you have sick kids,” he said. “But we’ve been tracking some other campuses in the same general area with similar (school) age to do a comparison to see if West Memorial kids’ symptoms are unusual.
“But it was reported to me that West Memorial had perfect student attendance during the first six-week rating period. The attendance was at least doubled compared to last year.”
Wednesday, school officials handed over studies of the school’s air quality and health reports of pupils to experts from Texas Department of Health and Harris County Department of Health, Crowe said.
“We are waiting for them to look at the test results and give us recommendation and solution,” he said. “But we have tested everything and the building is thoroughly cleaned and safe. The parents know that.”
“If the school is clean, then why there are so many of our kids repeating the same symptoms?” asked Ericksen, who said her second-grade daughter has often complained about nausea.
Parents demanded that the school district consult two Austin-based experts, Quade Stahl and Keller Thormahlen of the Texas Department of Health.
“They have worked with other mold-affected Texas schools and have the experience with situation like this,” said Pam Nielsen, a parent. “We need people with more expertise to tell us medically what is attacking our children’s health, rather than what’s wrong with the school environmentally.”
Ericksen said, “We need independent experts to work on this, not anyone contracted with the school district.”
Crowe said school officials do not have the authority to do that. “We don’t tell TDH whom to assign for the case,” he said.
Nielsen said she believes the school was not thoroughly decontaminated.
Parents also asked for a “roundtable” discussion with school officials.