An elementary school will pay a substantial fine for exposing its kindergarteners to mold and asbestos.
The Maynard school’s district has been ordered to pay a $42,500 fine by Massachusetts’ Department of Labor Services after asbestos was found in a kindergarten wing of Green Meadow Elementary School. The wing was temporarily closed earlier in February after asbestos and mold were found in the ceiling. The asbestos was caused by a roof leak that damaged ceiling titles in the oldest wing of the school, according to officials.
Asbestos can be found in any building that was constructed prior to the 1980s. It was traditionally wrapped around heating pipes and air ducts, sprayed it onto ceilings for soundproofing, and incorporated it into floor tiles. The material becomes hazardous when it is exposed and goes airborne.
School officials claim student safety is always their top priority. One classroom at the elementary has been shut down entirely, and the district made the decision to remove all of the old ceiling titles in that wing and install a modern drop ceiling. While the mold and asbestos will be immediately abated, the school board is hopeful that the district will eventually be able to secure an entire new elementary building.
“Closing the [wing]…will allow faculty and staff to facilitate the move to a new location in the building for the remainder of the year,” Superintendent Robert Gerardi originally stated when the issues were discovered. However, parents felt the superintendent did too little, too late, and voiced their frustration with Gerardi.
Myles Clancy, a parent whose child attends the school, thinks “the superintendent should resign.”
“I didn’t hear any kind of answers that I felt like he’s somebody who’s really thinking about really beyond this sort of crisis,” he said. “I just sort of hear someone who’s kind of in the moment.”
“Just knowing that my son was there, I don’t know the harm it might have done within that year,” said Jonathan Shulman, whose son was in the kindergarten class affected. “It’s upsetting.”
“The absolute most important element of this is the health and well-being of the children in that school,” Mike Walden, president of the Maynard Education Association, said, adding, “Teachers have been getting sick for the last two to three years. Tiles have been falling for the last two to three years. This is nothing new. I’m glad that the problem is, actually, finally being resolved.”
More than 200 parents and teachers in Maynard, Massachusetts, attended a recent school board meeting to address concerns after the mold and asbestos were detected. The meeting, which ran several hours long, included public comments from parents, teachers, and their union. Maynard’s school board committee assured attendees it is doing whatever it can to improve the building’s condition.
The Maynard Department of Public Works is also being fined $20,000 for the issue, and both the department and school district are to make their respective payments by March 8. Initial repairs to the building’s roof in 2018, and the school district will be seeking additional funding for repairs at its Town Meeting scheduled for May.