Houston School Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra is considering closing Key Middle School, just months after the school district spent $3 million improving the trouble-plagued building. If the district closes the facility, Key students would be sent to nearby campuses. Employees say the district's effort to repair the building, where some staff members continue to report feeling ill, has been in vain.
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EDITORIAL: "In the nine months since the mysterious illnesses were first reported, the district leadership has made one misjudgment after another, first implying that dozens of teachers were feigning sickness as a union organizing tactic, then delaying for weeks the removal of staff and students to safety."
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FROM MARCH 2008: Key Middle School in Houston has been closed since late September because of air-quality problems, but will reopen after spring break. The campus will undergo another round of air-quality tests this week and, assuming they come back clean, the Key students will return to school March 26. The 600-plus students and staff from Key have been at nearby Fleming Middle School while their mold-infested campus underwent about $3 million worth of cleaning and renovations. For weeks, several teachers and some students had complained of headaches, nausea and other problems while inside Key. But Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra kept the school open because city inspectors and an environmental testing firm found no evidence of air problems. Saavedra relented, though, and closed Key after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised concerns. (Houston Chronicle).
FROM OCTOBER 2007: The controversy over possible contaminants at Key Middle School in Houston has cost taxpayers more than $127,000 since August, and the tab could rise as employees incur more medical expenses that they blame on mold. Eighty-eight employees from Key — about 80 percent of the staff — have filed workers' compensation claims with the Houston Independent School District. Almost all said they were in good health before falling ill at the northeast Houston campus, and the most common symptoms reported were skin rashes, difficulty breathing and headaches. (Houston Chronicle)
EARLIER: Federal air-quality experts have confirmed the presence of mold at Key Middle School in Houston. They have urged district officials to continue monitoring the ventilation units at the school and to communicate better with employees about their efforts. The students and staff from Key have been housed at nearby Fleming Middle School since Sept. 26. (Houston Chronicle)
Some parents are complaining that students from Key Middle School in Houston aren't getting an adequate education and deserve a break from state testing rules because of health concerns at their campus. The students and staff from Key have been at Fleming Middle School while the district assesses air-quality problems at Key. Parents say the merger has forced their children into classes with too many students and not enough textbooks. (Houston Chronicle)
Federal inspectors will meet with Houston school officials to begin unlocking the mystery of what might have caused numerous teachers and students to report falling ill at Key Middle School. For the staff and students at Key, today marks the start of classes at a new location, Fleming Middle School, where they will stay for an undetermined amount of time while officials review potential health hazards at their campus. (Houston Chronicle).
Students and teachers from Key Middle School in Houston will report to class Wednesday at nearby Fleming Middle School — temporarily abandoning a building that many say has made them sick over the first three weeks of school. But some students and parents aren't sure how Key and Fleming students will coexist. They're rival schools that have fought in the past. (Houston Chronicle)
SIDEBAR: Mable Caleb, the principal at Key Middle School, is reassuring parents that their children will be educated — and safely — when they transfer to Fleming Middle School this week.
Students and staff members at Key Middle School in Houston will be moved temporarily to Fleming Middle School, starting Wednesday, so that further tests can be conducted at Key. No classes will be held Monday and Tuesday at Key, where numerous employees and students have reported feeling ill. The Houston Independent School District has had the campus tested several times to determine whether mold or some other airborne toxin may be causing the illnesses.The tests have not turned up any clear cause. (Houston Chronicle)
Bowing to weeks of staff and community pressure, the Houston school district is making plans to move students and staff out of Key Middle School, where teachers and students have reported that something in the building is making them sick. School board president Manuel Rodriguez Jr. says Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra plans to relocate the staff and 600 students so that more tests can be conducted at the middle school. Teachers, children and other employees have been reporting since August that something at the 50-year-old campus is making them sick, but numerous tests have not been able to determine a cause. (Houston Chronicle)
A director with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says he saw some "potentially problematic" moldy areas at Key Middle School in Houston. Officials with the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they will meet with school officials and review whether more tests are needed at the campus where several employees and students have reported ailments over the last three weeks. (Houston Chronicle)
Three weeks have passed since employees at Key Middle School in Houston began complaining of mysterious ailments. The Houston Independent School District has spent an estimated $50,000 testing Key for mold and other possible contaminants since at least nine of the school's 50 or so teachers went to emergency rooms. Most reported difficulty breathing and watery eyes. Seven janitors also went to hospitals after suffering similar complaints. So, is something at the 50-year-old northeast Houston campus causing illness? District officials say they can't find anything. (Houston Chronicle)