CMS responds to students and staff getting sick at school - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

CMS responds to students and staff getting sick at school

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Some parents at Hornets Nest Elementary school are upset about what they call a health scare. They claim since the first day of school high levels of methane and hydrogen sulfide have been floating through the school and they believe that has made students and staff sick.

"I send my daughter to school to get a quality education and a healthy environment," Hornets Nest ES Parent Sherry Walker said. "And that is what I expect. I am disappointed."

Walker says her daughter has been getting headaches, stomach aches and severe coughing attacks. Parents were told work at the school done this past summer was not finished. As a result that allowed the gases to go throughout the school for students and staff to inhale. Walker's daughter and other students and staff have missed several days of school.

"She's been breathing in all these type of toxic gases," Walker said. "And chemicals and I refuse to put her in that environment."

Charlotte - Mecklenburg school (CMS) leaders are responding to those claims.

"There was never known high levels of any of those gases." CMS Director of Maintenance Mark Jones said.  

CMS says an odor was detected back in Septembers.  Crews went to the school but found nothing.  The smell was detected again and crews returned in October.  This time they did find sewer gas leaking from the pipes and they fixed the problem.

We asked Jones since the problem was found in October, is it possible students and staff have been inhaling the gases since the beginning of the school year.

"I can't say that," Jones said. " 'Cause we did investigate."

Barbara Malloy is the president of the school's PTA. She and others are upset Charlotte - Mecklenburg school (CMS) system just notified parents about what has been going on at the school for months.

CMS says it is up to the principal to tell and what not to tell parents about what is happening at the school.

"What has been done at Hornets Nest is wrong," Malloy said. "And I am very disappointed in how it was handled. It should have been handled so much better."

Malloy was also told about three years ago the school's air quality was considered unhealthy. And now news of methane and hydrogen sulfide in the school has the PTA president wandering how healthy is the school.

"If this is something that happened last year," Malloy said. "Or if something that happened after the construction. The school should not have never been opened. The school should have been closed."

CMS is responding to parents claims. They sent parents a note Friday night notifying parents of the problem. This is the statement the school district sent to WBTV.

"CMS takes the safety of its students and staff very seriously. Our district's top priority is to provide a safe working and learning environment. When an odor was detected at Hornets Nest Elementary, the CMS maintenance department responded immediately to address the concern. After several air quality tests and facility inspections, it was determined that sewerage vents were closed. The issue has been corrected and air quality tests indicate that the school remains safe and levels are well within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulatory levels. Again, we take this matter seriously and will continue to monitor this situation very closely."

While CMS is watching this matter closely, parents are looking for their next step.

"Someone is going to have to be accountable." Malloy said.

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