State health department cites mold, air quality problems at Gary Roosevelt

2014-02-20T18:45:00Z 2014-02-21T09:36:10Z State health department cites mold, air quality problems at Gary RooseveltCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

GARY | An Indiana State Department of Heath inspection at Roosevelt College & Career Academy cited mold, air quality problems and standing water in the building.

The report, written by Ron Clark, a state department industrial hygienist, said the inspection was conducted Feb. 11. The report cited several rooms that had missing or water-damaged ceiling tile, and noted several areas of visible mold, including some classrooms, the teachers lounge, band room and choir room.

EdisonLearning Inc., a private management company that took over and operates Roosevelt, has been complaining about heating problems, burst pipes and mold for several weeks.

EdisonLearning spokesman Michael Serpe previously said that because of heating failures, a number of pipes burst, causing the hallways near the gym to flood with up to 2 inches of water.

EdisonLearning and the Gary Community School Corp. mapped out an agreement to resolve the issues, but both sides have been verbally sparring about who is responsible for what.

Gary Attorney Tony Walker, a member of the Indiana State Board of Education, asked for the inspection, and said he is not comfortable with students or staff in the building, "especially not with the possibility that mold spores could be traveling through the ventilation system."

Walker said he has been in contact with the governor's office and believes students need to be relocated to another building or the state needs to step in and immediately remediate the building.

"The Gary Community School Corp. doesn't have the money to do it," Walker said. "They may also have other buildings in similar shape. Bailly had some of the same issues with pipes bursting and flooding. Who knows about the other facilities?"

Serpe said since the Gary school district owns the building, and EdisonLearning is essentially the tenant, it will be working with the district to address the issues noted in the report, which resulted from the failure of the heating system and the flooding that followed.

"School is open, and measures will be taken to restrict the usage of those areas of the building specifically cited in the report," Serpe said.

"Concerning relocation to another building, as far as we know this is not being considered at this time. In fact, this is a decision that our organization would not be involved in. In as much as we work for the Indiana Department of Education, any decision concerning the actual facility in which the school operated would be made by the department in consultation with the State Board of Education."

Gary school spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said when district officials looked at the report, they believed many of the issues cited can be taken care of "routinely" because it is surface mold. She said it would involve cleaning, bleaching and cleaning filters that show mold.

"There is only a small portion of it that will need more extensive abatement," Stevens said. "The Gary school corporation is working with the Edison facility manager. A plan has been developed to make sure all of it is cleaned out."

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