Mold in Bennettsville Intermediate making kids sick, parents say

BENNETTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) – Marlboro County parents met with school officials Monday at a forum to address Bennettsville Intermediate School’s mold problem.

Parents said the mold is causing health issues for their children and they want something done about it.

“Forget the building, test the people,” said one parent. “All you’ve got to do is compare to a healthy school, how their people are healthy and how our people are sick and get rid of this school.”

Lanita Benton-Lowe has two children who attend Bennettsville Intermediate. She said she’s worried about her children’s health after her son repeatedly comes home from school feeling sick.

“They have headaches, sore throat, chest pains, my son – I have to do breathing treatments for him every day,” said Benton-Lowe. “They’re even having to put him on steroids just to open up his chest so he can breathe.”

The ceilings in some of the hallways of the school had water stains on them and tiles on a classroom floor were ripped up and damp from water damage.

“If we don’t have healthy schools, we don’t have healthy students. If we don’t have healthy students, we don’t have a healthy community,” said parent Pam Ashwood.

Benton-Lowe said not only is she concerned for the safety of her children, but also for the quality of their education.

“I want immediate change. We need a new school as soon as possible. We need results,” she said. “If they’re being sent home every day, if they’re not at school they can’t learn.”

Linda Pino said her 8-year-old grandson is enrolled at the school and now has issues breathing.

“Every evening I have to give him a breathing treatment,” said Pino. “He does good by the time he leaves for school and on the weekends he doesn’t have the problems that bad, but through the week from school, he comes home saying his head hurts, he can’t breathe, and he’s tired.”

Parents at the meeting said the building should be torn down. Many offered the solution that the school board brought up in April which was to move Bennettsville Intermediate students into Marlboro County High School.

Three Marlboro County School Board members attended the meeting Monday night to listen to both the issues and solutions suggested by parents.

Acting Superintendent John Lane said a report done in May showed that mold was found in the building, but it was not considered to be a health threat to students and faculty in the school.

“We’re not trying to negate nor mitigate the initial reports, we’re just trying to make sure the parents are heard,” he said.

Lane said he will present the parents’ concerns discussed at the forum to the school board at its next meeting on Monday, Nov. 6 at 6 p.m.