District Heights Elementary School teachers threaten strike over school conditions

Sources tell FOX 5 that staff at District Heights Elementary School is threatening to strike over health and safety concerns.

Staff at the school said they and their students keep getting sick with respiratory problems and they fear mold and poor air quality in the building are to blame.

FOX 5 obtained video from inside the school that appears to show mold on ceiling tiles along with water damage. A teacher provided a photo that she says depicts mold on a student's uniform hanging on a clothing rack.

District officials said preliminary testing found no evidence of a mold problem, though tests did reveal poor ventilation in some areas. They say that is now being addressed and maintain that the school is safe.

After an explosive community meeting Monday evening, there were growing calls Tuesday for students and staff to be relocated from the building.

"It is very clear to me that the teachers are on the same page that this building should be shut down until the repairs are made," said Prince George's County school board member Ed Burroughs.

He said he wants the school board to vote on moving classes to an empty school two miles away. Forestville High School closed last year due to low enrollment.

Burroughs says staff and parents have been complaining about health issues for months and even years, but he only recently found out about it.

"If this were another community in more affluent parts of the county, I guarantee you they would not be treated in this way and that is so unfortunate," Burroughs said. "It wasn't until it was on the news that this community got any sort of response from the central office."

He said he has requested a copy of the preliminary testing done in the school, but that information has not been provided to him. FOX 5 also asked Prince George's County Public Schools for the results, but received no response.

At the meeting on Monday, an associate superintendent said more testing on the entire building would begin immediately, but a Prince George's County Public Schools spokeswoman said there was no testing done Tuesday and the school district is still working on getting someone out to do it.

In the meantime, some parents are keeping students home.

"I took my kids out on Wednesday, so they have not been back to school since then," said parent Phyllis Wright. "The air quality is not right. This school has been neglected for a very long time."