MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Health concerns at a local high school have prompted a health department inspection.
A Jensen Beach High School mother believes there might be mold inside her daughter’s classroom.
She also worries not enough is being done to make sure her daughter and other students are safe from possible mold exposure.
Leigh Giunta says her daughter has been noticing symptoms of an allergy during her first-period class. Her daughter starts off her school day with 100 minutes inside the high school auditorium, where she takes chorus.
“She’s like ‘Mom, I’m getting this weird rash on my chest when I’m in first period… I have a headache, my eyes hurt, I’m having shortness of breath'... But, it wasn’t happening on the way to school. It wasn’t happening on the way home,” Giunta explained.
The symptoms would go away when her daughter would leave the auditorium.
After a doctor’s visit, Giunta showed WPTV medical paperwork where a doctor told Giunta’s daughter to stay away from the mold, likely what the doctor said was causing her symptoms.
Giunta said other staff members also expressed concern to her about possible mold inside the auditorium. She decided to visit the classroom.
“I said, 'please take me to the classroom where my daughter is spending 100 minutes. I need to see the environment’…as I walked in I could smell mildew or mold. It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Giunta described.
The Martin County School District’s Chief Operations Officer, Garret Grobowski, said the auditorium has had a leak in the roof since Hurricane Irma.
“This is not a simple repair. The roof has to come off and the connections have to be re-flashed. It’s a really big job,” Grobowski said.
More than a dozen water-damaged ceiling tiles have already been removed, water diverters have been installed, and a dehumidifier has been put in place to keep the air dry.
Giunta called the Florida Department of Health in Martin County, urging them to do an inspection.
The health department confirmed they made a site visit Friday, but after a walkthrough, they did not see or smell signs of mold.
Giunta is not satisfied and still does not want her daughter going back into that classroom.
“I'm not going to put her health at risk because someone from the health department walked in and said' I don’t see any mold, I don’t smell any mold, but I didn’t test either’,” Giunta explained.
Grobowski said the health department did not recommend testing for mold, and the school district follows their recommendations.
Grobowski confirmed mold tests have never been conducted inside the auditorium.
“We’ve been monitoring the air quality in the building,” Grobowski said. The most recent inspection from the health department shows no air quality tests were conducted.
“What we do is measure temperature and humidity and dew points and grains of moisture. If there’s no moisture, there’s no mold,” Grobowski said.
Grobowski said he is meeting with a contractor Monday to go over replacing the roof. From start to finish, the replacement process could take up to 120-days, he said.
“If you’ve had an issue with a leaky roof for two years, why did it take you two years to suddenly fix it,” Giunta asked.