School system confirms minimal ‘black mold’ found at school


Fayette County School System Deputy Superintendent Sam Sweat on Sept. 10 provided additional information on the presence of Stachybotrys, also known as black mold, found at Huddleston Elementary School in Pechtree City where several teachers are sick and have been referred for a workers compensation evaluation by a physician. 

The industrial hygienist performing the test clarified the early August test report and indicated that one black mold spore was found in one classroom.

Sweat and Huddleston Principal Heidi Pfannenstiel in the Sept. 10 letter also updated parents on the mold issue discovered at the school and remediation work that resulted.

Sweat said he took responsibility for the Sept. 1 letter noting that Stachybotrys was not found in the samples taken in the school. 

“I take full responsibility for not communicating to the principal the one black mold spore in the report,” Sweat said on Thursday. “I didn’t see (the Stachybotrys) number when the letter was written.”

The mold was found only in Room 112, according to the report from industrial hygienist Jeff Giles and provided to The Citizen by the school system.

Sweat said there have been teachers sick, adding that three or four have seen a doctor as a workers compensation issue, at the school system’s direction.

The report form for Room 112 noted a raw count of 1 spore detected in the test sample and 13 spores per cubic meter. Sweat said his understanding of the report translated into one spore being found, not 13 spores. 

Giles confirmed that assessment on Thursday, saying the “13” on the report translates into the expectation that 13 spores would be present in one cubic meter of air based on one spore detected in the test.

As for Stachybotrys, Giles said, “One spore doesn’t constitute a condition. But I will report it every time. I have to.”

 Sweat noted that humidity levels in the school are high, adding that humidity is one of the issues currently being addressed.

The Aug. 16 test results did not show Stachybotrys on the form. Asked about that, Giles said he did test for the mold. The only molds listed on the form were those that were found in at least one test area and Stachybotrys was not found during that sampling.

The Sept. 10 letter to parents said that although the mold discovered in mid-August has been remediated, “we continue to take steps to prevent a reoccurrence of the problem and alleviate concerns from our Huddleston community.”

The letter said copies of all test results to date are available to parents in the school office.

Sweat said it was requested at the PTO meeting earlier this week that parents with children exhibiting any unusual symptoms contact the school nurse and administration by Sept. 15.

As for addressing issues with the school building, the Ga. Dept. of Education has agreed to a school system request to have major renovations made to the school in the spring and summer of 2016 as part of a state-funded 20-year upgrade.

Occurring now is the completion of sealing gaps allowing outside air into the school and the extension of gutter downspouts to drain water away from the building.