Michelle Kim

Mold Forces Yonkers School to Close Tuesday

Parents were unhappy with the contingency plan to shift classes to a nearby high school

What to Know

  • Yonkers Paideia School 15 was closed early Monday afternoon after ceiling tiles tested positive for mold
  • At an emergency meeting, parents demanded answers and expressed frustration over plans to temporarily shift school to a high school
  • The schools superintendent said parents will be updated on abatement plans and when the building will reopen

The Yonkers public school board is scrambling to figure out where to put students of Paideia School 15 after a quarter of mold tests came back positive Monday, forcing officials to dismiss early and close school on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The 600-student building of Paideia was evacuated after tests showed ceiling tiles on the third floor had mold.

"On the loudspeaker, they told everyone to drop everything and meet in the hallway," said third-grader Bridget Burke. "I got very scared." 

One family is convinced the mold has been in the school for awhile. Parent Kerri Burke said her daughter had no health issues during summer break -- no allergies, no runny nose. But during the school year, she breaks out in hives, and "last year, I had to take her to the emergency room every week. It only happens in the school year."

"There's got to be a paper trail somewhere," said parent Frank Krimelbein. "Mold takes weeks, months, years. Somebody put this on the back burner. It didn't develop the first two weeks of school." 

But the proposal to shift classes to Roosevelt High School was met with resistance at an emergency meeting Monday night. Parents were concerned about safety in a shared school, as well as how buses would be rerouted and schedules redone. 

"Please take that off your venue, that's not even an option," said Krimelbein. "I have a problem with them on the bus, with 12- to 13-year-olds without a bus monitor. It's not an option, with the language, the smoke and the environment." 

But Yonkers school superintendent Edwin M. Quezada, Ed. D., said it's the only plan for now: "The pre-K to fourth-graders would go to Dodson School, we hope, and the five to eight will go to Roosevelt High," he said.

The school board hopes the work can be done in a week, and plans to fix the leaky roofs in the building believed to have caused the mold.

Quezada said Tuesday the district has decided to close school for one more day on Wednesday as teachers prepare for their new classroom environments, despite parents expressing opposition to the plan. 

The Paideia students "will have a special wing just for them, separate entrance, separate bathrooms, eat in the cafeteria by themselves," said Quezada. "We will have extra administrators at the school."

He said he hopes to have Paideia cleaned up and reopened by Monday. 

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