Plato Academy Largo to undergo additional mold tests

Parents attended a board meeting Monday to voice concerns about possible mold in Plato Academy Largo classrooms.

LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — During a Monday meeting the Plato Academy Largo school board voted to hire a mold inspection company to retest the campus. Board members voted to bring Pure Air in.

Parents and school leaders have previously met to discuss mold concerns at the Largo school. They gathered again Monday. While school officials said no mold has been discovered, a former teacher says that’s not the case.

A parent said this photo was taken at Plato Academy Largo.
A parent said this photo was taken at Plato Academy Largo.

Board members did hear about an air conditioner problem during the summer, which could have allowed mold to grow in some classrooms. But since then, they say they are relying on negative test results and don’t believe they have an ongoing problem. “We haven’t found one,” Kolettis said. “It can certainly be one; we’re not trying to hide it. If there is one, we’re gonna fix it,” Board Chairman Elias Kolettis said.

Several parents came forward and said they didn’t believe there was mold. “And even back in early July, I didn’t see any issues of any mold and I didn’t see any issues of any AC breaking down,” parent Roberto Rosario Jr. said.

James Kelly, also a parent, said he believes officials would deal with mold if it were an issue. “I think it’s pretty well established there’s no mold. I mean, and if there ever will be, he would do everything in his power to make sure it was taken care of,” Kelly said.

Some parents believe there’s mold, say it’s made kids sick

Still, not all parents were satisfied. “You promised us on the news on Friday, that we could have of our choosing, a mold inspector come and do the testing,” Michelle Zamparelli said. “To this day, I don’t think that there has been a certified mold inspector that has come out here.”

Several parents questioned why students continue to become ill with breathing problems. They said these issues are caused by dangerous mold. “Don’t lie and say there was never an issue. Own up to it and just fix it. That’s all we want,” one parent said.

On Friday night dozens of parents crowded into the school’s cafeteria to grill the president and CEO of Superior Schools, Steve Christopoulos.

Last week several parents showed News Channel 8 crews the middle school classrooms in question, pointing out what they believe is mold near a vent, wet floors where tiles are coming up and places where, they claim, paint is hiding the mold.

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They’re pointing the finger at Christopoulos, who maintains that the school’s classrooms are safe. He pointed to five tests done by independent environmental companies that he claims prove that the classrooms are safe for students.

Former teacher says there’s mold

But a former teacher says there is mold – and that it’s been a problem for years.

“I am 100 percent sure there is, 100 percent,” Beth Allen said.

Allen started working at the school two years ago.

“There’s a lot of moisture in the air so we figure we’d send out a mold kit and see if maybe that was the answer. We never saw the results of the kit, but we continued to have our hunches.” she said.

Allen said other teachers started to see mold last year.

“By the middle of the year, by Christmas break, we were seeing the mold. And then by spring break, we thought Superior had acted. They asked us to pull all our furniture away from the wall, they were going to replace floor tiles that had come up all moldy. They were going to pull down the whole back wall of the modular building, so we spent hours moving everything away from the wall and nothing ever happened,” she said.

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