JHS 67 leader cries foul over mold removal

JHS 67 leader cries foul over mold removal
By Anna Gustafson

The parent coordinator at JHS 67 in Little Neck said school leaders were distressed to learn city officials did not inform them that mold was found and removed from the school over the winter break, but the city Department of Education said the agency had been in constant contact with the principal.

Rhonda Bogaty, the parent coordinator at JHS 67 at 51-60 Marathon Pkwy., said she and others at JHS 67 discovered mold had been removed from three rooms in the school’s basement at the end of December because of a letter sent by the private company contracted by the city. But she said they received no information from the city itself about the removal nor that mold had been discovered during an air quality test Dec. 20.

The city refuted Bogaty’s statements, and a DOE spokeswoman said the city School Construction Authority, which contracted with the company Louis Berger Associates to remove the mold, had been in “constant touch” with the principal at JHS 67.

The principal was not available for comment.

“The only thing we received was a letter saying the building had been worked on, three rooms were cleared of mold and we could reopen the building on Jan. 3,” Bogaty said, referring to the correspondence from the company. “They apparently did an air quality test in December, but we never received anything in writing as a result of that test. We still haven’t received any information in terms of what happened here. The DOE has told us nothing.”

Parents and school officials have said they have been long concerned about water leaks at the school and said they believed it caused health problems for students.

JHS 67 Principal Zoi McGrath said at a Community District Education Council 26 meeting last month that city officials told her they abandoned a project that was expected to address the leaks that McGrath said have occurred at the school since 2008. According to school officials, water will leak from the roof into the school and it “flows” through five especially problematic classrooms, including the band, jazz and drama rooms.

While school officials said they were informed the project had been canceled, School Construction Authority representative Mary Leas said education officials told her the project would still occur.

Following this confusion, an air quality test was performed, but school officials were unaware this occurred, Bogaty said. While three rooms have been cleared of mold, Bogaty said there are two or three other classrooms that are still experiencing leaks.

“I’m not personally concerned, but I’m not an expert,” Bogaty said of the continued leaks. “I would rather see documentation from somebody that’s an expert and then I’ll say if I’m concerned.”

Little Neck residents Ambareen Rizvi and her husband, Syed Rizvi, said at the CEC 26 meeting last month that they were considering removing their son from the school because of his health problems, which they said did not exist before he began going to the Little Neck school.

“Our son has been to our family physician four times since September,” said Ambareen Rizvi. “He says he’s been having breathing problems, has wheezing and stuffiness. I hope this does not become a chronic condition.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.