One year later, APS still fixing mold issues at Washington High

ATLANTA -- More than a year after mold problems were first discovered at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, the Atlanta Public School system is still working to fix the problem.

In October 2013, 11Alive first exposed the mold issues. The district held an emergency meeting.

During the 2013-2014 school year, the district had been posting updates for parents on the school's website. In March of this year, those updates stopped. But the mold issues did not.

"We have been doing this for over a year. At some point, APS must make the west side a priority," Washington High School alum Valerie Williams said.

Snapping photo after photo of mold inside her alma mater has become an unwelcome routine for Washington. After 11Alive first aired the story, she sent us a series of photos showing evidence of mold in the school.

"It is unacceptable," she said.

11Alive spoke with APS Facilities Director Alvah Hardy, who said extensive work was done to fix the recurring issues in the school's fine arts and T-Buildings.

"The problems in the T-building and the fine arts building were systemic," Hardy told 11Alive's Blayne Alexander. "They were whole building issues and it was related to that equipment."

In December 2014, 11Alive filed an open records request with APS that revealed, more than a year later, the school is still finding -- and fixing -- mold issues. This time, however, the problems are in a different part of the school.

In September 2014, tests found mold in two storage rooms and a coach's office. The district says the spots were cleaned and tested. In October, moldy chairs were found in another storage room. Those were removed and the room locked.

Hardy says, unlike 2013, these are isolated issues.

"We attack those the way we do with any other school in the district at any point in time," Hardy said. "We assess the situation and take whatever remedial actions are necessary - remove or clean it."

Williams said, widespread or not, any remaining mold issues are unacceptable.

"It's beyond my comprehension that we would be doing anything in regards to the mold," she said. "We've beat this horse for a long time now."

In mid-October, officials conducted an air quality check for the entire school. It revealed signs of mold in the ticket booth area, on a piano in the auditorium, on chairs and and on the ceiling inside a classroom, and in an athletic storage room in the gym basement.

Hardy says those spots were either cleaned or removed and showed 11Alive the storage room, now being renovated into athletic training room, complete with new air system. The district also stressed that four of the rooms where the mold was discovered were unoccupied.

By early June, Hardy says, the entire building will have undergone improvements to the air system. That should, he says, fix the problems for good.

But Williams, now in her second year of watching these issues, is not convinced.

"I challenge the administration of Washington High School as well as the COO of APS -- fix this once and for all," she said.

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