CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Parents of students at South Charleston Middle School are outraged by the condition of the school building and are demanding action from the county school system.
A group of them came to the school board Thursday to lodge complaints abou the building, which they say is in desperate need of repair -- especially its roof and mold they say is housed in many of the building's common areas.
Sarah Providenti, a 7th grader, said she has been sick ever since the first day of school -- she's had to miss a lot of schooldays, and been to the doctor eight times since school started Aug. 9.
The suspect, she says, is the mold -- the only allergen she tested positive for. The problem only cropped up at the beginning of the school year, and it's worse when she's in the middle school.
"Lately I've been avoiding going to the bathroom at school," she said. "Because the mold is so bad in there and I cough so much."
Providenti has managed to stay on the honor roll so far this year, but she and her mother, Kristi, are worried about her academic performance as the year goes on, given all of the school she's had to miss.
Sarah's on the soccer team, and hasn't been able to play because she's been so out of breath. She doesn't like that - and she doesn't like going to school sick so often.
"I just need you to fix the mold," she said. "It's really bad, and I don't think it's fair that I have to deal with being sick or giving up the school I love."
Superintendent Ron Deurring said that the problem is, in fact, being addressed: an environmental crew will be at the school Monday to test the air for mold particles, and to propose a plan to fix any problem they find. And a project to replace the roof on the building is out to bid.
"And so all that's in place already," he said. "You know we have to go through the process to get these things done."
David Haden, whose son is in the 7th grade at South Charleston Middle, came to the school board last year to complain about conditions at the school, and said he was disappointed that officials failed to take action sooner.
"You are failing the students and failing your employees," he said. "They are in a dangerous environment and you knew about this last year."
He received a round of applause from the meeting's spectators, most of whom were parents and students. Several called out impassioned complaints during the meeting.
The school board urged patience, saying they will address the issue further at the next regular meeting in October, after the environmental study has been completed, supplying official information on conditions at the school.
"There's so much emotion involved around this right now, I'm not sure there's anything we can say to you right now that can make you feel better," board member Robin Rector said. "We need you to give us time to address it."
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.