DISD middle school students being relocated due to poor air quality

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Dallas ISD is temporarily closing one of its middle schools for an extended period of time because of mold-related air quality concerns.

Beginning in January, Sarah Zumwalt Middle School students and staff will be relocated to A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School because of several infrastructure issues and mold problems plaguing the school.

School officials told staff members and the media about the closing on Thursday, but didn’t tell the parents. Some are not happy they were not notified as well.

"Why are we just now knowing about this? Now when I walked in the school everything was okay. When I walk out, the news is here. I'm trying to figure out why," said Letitia Simmons, a parent. "So what I would say is the DISD, you need to do something better than what you're doing because what you doing ain't right."

The district said it found high humidity in the school caused by groundwater and problems with the heating and ventilation system. The issues will be fixed with accelerated $5.8 million renovation work for the school under the 2015 Bond Program.

Back in February, the district began addressing what it called "isolated cases of mold" in an office and three classrooms.

A district spokeswoman said DISD wasn't trying to hide anything from parents. It made the decision to inform the media as soon as school staff was told because people were leaking the information on social media.

The spokeswoman said a note is being sent home to parents on Friday. But some parents believe the call to notify parents last is very poor timing and bad judgment.

"I think it was very deceitful. If our kids are going to be here and we as parents are in support of them, they should let us know the minimum of what's going on with our kids," said Jennifer Lockhart, a parent.

Teachers and staff will have until the next Thursday, the last day of school before the winter break, to pack up and move their things to the other school.

Maceo Tech currently has 390 students, but can hold up to 1,300. So the district said there will be no problem absorbing the 450 students coming from Zumwalt.

Both campuses will hold a parent meeting on Monday to give parents a chance to ask questions.

The arrangement is anticipated to continue for one year.

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