School Blames Humid Summer for Mold; Parents Not Convinced Repairs Are Enough

A performing arts school in Prince George's County, Maryland, has replaced ceiling tiles and insulation after parents raised concerns about mold making their children sick — but some parents say they aren't convinced the school system is doing enough.

Crissy and Nate Crittenden told News4 their son is an eighth grade student at Benjamin D. Foulois Creative and Performing Arts Academy in Morningside.

"He's suffering headaches. He's suffering running nose. He's suffering just exacerbations from asthma-related symptoms, again, triggers that mold and mildew will bring upon," said Crissy Crittenden.

The public school specializes in creative arts disciplines such as visual arts, dance, drama, choral music, technology and instrumental music.

Nate Crittenden said he discovered the problem when he visited the school unnanounced. 

"I was trying to find out why my son's dance class was in the hallway and that's when they had told me that it was mold," he said.

Nate Crittenden took photos of large mold stains on multiple ceiling tiles.

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School officials held a meeting with nearly 100 parents Thursday night to discuss the issue. They said crews cleaned vents, replaced ceiling tiles and installed new insulation around air conditioning pipes in the dance studio.

Officials said an unusually humid summer and early fall had caused the pipe condensation and resulting mold.

"We want to be sure the community knows we're taking this seriously and that we're addressing their concerns as well as concerns of staff," PGCPS spokesperson John White said.

However, the Crittendens remained skeptical of the school sytem's actions.

"The only reason why anything is being and started moving is because I got out here and started talking to different people," Nate Crittenden said.

Some parents said they're concerned the school is making piecemeal repairs and they would like to see the students moved to another school until the work is completed.

Prince George's County Public Schools said it would also fix a leak in the school's roof and repair the heating and air conditioning system. It said there have been condensation issues at six schools.

The Crittendens said they are in close contact with other parents and they may stage a walkout at the school to send a message that they are running out of patience.

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