By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
WILLIAMSBURG — The city’s Department of Education (DOE) says that the black mold problem at M.S. 577 in Williamsburg has been eliminated after last weekend’s cleanup, but parents and area politicians want the city to move the kids to alternative sites while more testing is carried out.
Parents say that DOE Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm “dismissed concerns of lingering health risks” at the middle school at an emergency meeting held earlier this week.
“We have, unfortunately, seen an unwillingness on the part of the DOE to take precautionary measures that thoroughly ensure the safety of our children,” said Councilwoman Diana Reyna in a statement. “It is absurd that with 4,000 empty seats in School District 14, the DOE refuses to temporarily relocate students from P.S. 17/ M.S. 577. The city cannot put these children at risk when there are safe alternatives available.”
DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas told the Brooklyn Eagle that the mold was removed over the weekend. “After testing the entire building for mold, thoroughly cleaning any affected rooms, and testing again, the results are conclusive: the building is completely safe for students and staff.
“We will continue to take additional steps to prevent water from leaking into the building,” he added.
DOE has been reaching out to parents and has been in regular contact with M.S. 577 principal Maria Masullo. Last week 90 students were pulled out of school by their parents, but attendance rose to slightly more than 80 percent Wednesday.
But the mold is a recurring problem, parents say, and after close to two dozen students and teachers came down with respiratory problems, they are afraid.
“Parents are scared. Their fears cannot be ignored or glossed over. The simple solution: Close the school so the mold can be extinguished in a concentrated effort,” said Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. “Send the kids to one of the nearby schools — preferably J.H.S. 126, where room exists. When consistent readings over a specified period of time come back showing no mold, let school resume at the building — not before.”