Former janitor says Zumwalt Middle School closing long overdue

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A former employee of the Dallas ISD middle school that’s closing due to air quality concerns is questioning why officials waited so long to address the issue that’s been plaguing the school for years.

Cedric Williams says he's retired after working nearly two decades in maintenance at Zumwalt Middle School, several of them as a supervisor.

"When I worked here for 21 years, I told them that it needed work for plumbing problems from the get-go,” the retired custodian said. “We had pipes burst from upstairs to downstairs."

Just as DISD allowed cameras inside for a glimpse of the soon-to-be-shutdown campus, Williams recalled that mold had been an issue for years. He shared pictures of the past problem and says relocating the students is long overdue.

“The only response I got was put in a work order and we'll get with it,” Williams said.

The district says it has routinely monitored air quality at Zumwalt for the past year. It says while the remediation is necessary, the situation has never reached the level of a health emergency and has not warranted the state health department getting involved.

MORE: DISD middle school students being relocated due to poor air quality

"They would be involved if we were to see visible mold growth of a certain quantity,” explained Christopher Gray with the district’s Environmental Health and Safety Department. “We saw that in the spring, which led us to the remediation.”

“We may get a high spore count in one classroom one week, then the very next week its back to a normal level,” said Chief of Operations Services Scott Lane. “So the fungal count— it’s an airborne type of mold. It’s not living in the walls or ventilation system."

When Zumwalt students return from the holiday break, they will have classes at nearby A. Maceo Smith High School while their school is expected to be closed roughly a year for ventilation repairs.

In the meantime, Williams disputes the district's assessment.

"I'm basically very upset because this should've been taken care of maybe 4 or 5 years ago,” he said.

Parents will be able to meet with school officials on Monday for a chance to ask questions about the relocation.

 

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