|Mold hearing continues today |
|An injunction hearing to determine if two local public schools should cease operations has been continued for Tuesday (today) in Weakley County General Sessions Court. In February 27th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge William Acree heard testimony on behalf of a Martin mother who claims her three school-age children have been medically affected by contact with toxic mold at Westview High School, as well as Martin Middle School. |
Carol Hinman, parent of Griffin, Dominique and Paige Pochop, has filed suit against the Weakley County Board of Education. Hinman contends her three children have suffered respiratory illnesses and allergy symptoms due to alleged exposure to mold throughout both public schools.
Acree was asked to grant a restraining order and temporary injunction against both schools until the buildings have been completely rid of apparent toxic mold in accordance with EPA guidelines.
While the circuit court judge did not grant the court motions in February, he did order Weakley County Board of Education to begin immediate temporary remedial efforts with a permanent remediation of Westview High School to take place during the students’ summer break.
The Board was ordered to employ a third-party remediation company to remediate signs of mold growth after a school-wide inspection took place to determine the extent of mold growth within the public high school.
Hinman’s counsel, Amber Griffin of Memphis, noted during Monday’s hearing that the Board failed to comply with the school-wide inspection order.
While temporary remedial efforts have taken place at WHS by Groove Remediation of Nashville, Griffin questioned the credibility of the third-party company and its effectiveness at meeting EPA guidelines.
The attorney said later there was not a court order for a mutual agreement between the parties before hiring the remediation company.
She added the legal team for the plaintiff was not aware of which company the Board hired to perform the remedial work.
An inspection of the pneumatic air system and dampers was also ordered by Acree to take place.
The HVAC system has been considered through past testimony as a significant cause for moisture problems throughout the building. Griffin argued that the Board failed to comply with the court ordered HVAC inspection.
Jason Pannu, counsel for the Weakley County School Board, claimed testimony by his witnesses would show their recommendations put forth would be sufficient for eliminating sources of moisture throughout the public school building.
“Mr. James Kavanagh will testify that the mold was concentrated at the chiller system pipes in the areas above the ceiling tiles. He will tell you that the sophets designed to help release warm air back out of the building were stuffed with insulation. …He will also tell you that the building was built too low into the ground,” Pannu explained.
Kavanagh, a consultant of architectural design, took the stand Monday afternoon testifying he had conducted a visual inspection of Westview High School.
He offered recommendations based from his findings during the inspection where he allegedly saw building flaws that did not allow warm air to escape from the school building.
Kavanagh claimed the grade around the public school was too high which covered the “weep holes” of the structure.
He also suggested replacing caulk that had reached its life expectancy around doors and windows.
Another recommendation offered by the architectural consultant included replacing insulation around the HVAC chiller system’s pipes with duct that has Microban impregnated into the material.
Griffin presented information from Air Quality Sciences’ Web site that highlights a chemical known as Phenol to be a main ingredient in Microban’s make-up. Griffin went on to say information from the site claims Phenol is a common indoor pollutant that is potentially toxic and carcinogenic.
Acree recessed the injunction hearing after Kavanagh’s testimony on Monday with Dr. Elliott Horner set to take the stand today (Tuesday).
Acree is asked to determine if Westview High School should cease operations until it is completely rid of alleged toxic mold. A hearing against MMS is also scheduled for this week in circuit court.
Hinman’s children were allowed to participate in the school system’s “homebound” program. Hinman is the second parent to file suit against the Board of Education with claims of mold at Westview High School.