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including MBMS teacher Liz Laffoon

Time:2018-11-13 13:53mesothelioma | mesothelioma lawyers Website Click:

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Meadows Elementary School science teacher Joanne Michael shows her 5th grade students photos from her phone from the class's recent weather balloon experiment. (Photo by David Rosenfeld)

Schools in Manhattan Beach continue to deal with a rash of mold problems in classrooms that has now expanded into area grade schools.

At a meeting Wednesday, Nov. 7, district officials announced a new indoor air quality management plan intended to address the problem that has plagued the district since the start of school nearly three months ago.

In August, mold was discovered in four classrooms and four mechanical rooms at Mira Costa High School as well as 12 classrooms and five other areas at Manhattan Beach Middle School. All but four of the classrooms at the middle school have been tested and cleaned with teachers and students returning to their classrooms.

But now additional mold outbreaks have been discovered in recent weeks throughout the district at four separate grade schools. Among them were three classrooms at Grand View, one at Meadows, three at Pacific and one at Robinson elementary schools. At least two of the classrooms needed to be stripped down to their studs, according to Superintendent Mike Matthews.

“This has been a more significant issue than any of us thought it would be,” Matthews wrote in an email to parents and faculty on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

In an interview Thursday, Matthews said the exact cause of the mold outbreak has not been determined.

“It’s unprecedented,” he said. “The large scale part of it we have not dealt with before. That’s why we are developing this indoor air quality plan. We need a systematic way to address not only this year but in the future.”

In addition to increased future monitoring, the district has hired an second facilities manager and two new operations personnel.

Several educators, including MBMS teacher Liz Laffoon, who spoke with The Beach Reporter in October, said they had reported leaky roofs and stained ceiling tiles going back as long as seven years with little if anything being done about it.

Matthews acknowledged the district has been short-staffed and was trying to address the roofs. Early next year, work will begin to replace all roofs district-wide as part of a $114 million Measure C bond passed by voters in 2016, Matthews said.

“We know that we continue to patch our roofs,” Matthews said. “We also know that when you are patching one faulty part of the roof that’s old, another part can have issues. In most of these cases there was something being done, but a new problem developed after that.”

Meanwhile, the library at Mira Costa High School is still not open with hundreds of books yet to be distributed after workers contracted by the district on Aug. 16 mistakenly sanded floor tiles that contained asbestos.

Indoor air quality tests revealed that no asbestos material was detected in the air or on books. But the tiles were found to obtain asbestos and the district, as well as two contractors hired to perform the work, were issued violation notices by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Although work to re-mediate the asbestos in the library storage room has been completed, the district is still waiting for AQMD and Los Angeles County officials to allow the library to reopen.

“I know we have been hopeful before, and I know this has all been extraordinarily frustrating for all of us,” Matthews wrote in his monthly newsletter issued on Tuesday. “I appreciate the patience of our students, teachers, staff, and parents.”

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