Hurricane-Damaged Camp Lejeune School Safe, Inspectors Say

  • Water damage and mold had not yet been cleaned when students returned to Brewster Middle School on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina Sept. 25 after Hurricane Florence. (Photo courtesy of Laura Shuler)
    Water damage and mold had not yet been cleaned when students returned to Brewster Middle School on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina Sept. 25 after Hurricane Florence. (Photo courtesy of Laura Shuler)
  • Mold on a ceiling tile at Brewster Middle School on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, greeted students who returned to class Sept. 25 after Hurricane Florence. (Photo courtesy of Laura Shuler)
    Mold on a ceiling tile at Brewster Middle School on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, greeted students who returned to class Sept. 25 after Hurricane Florence. (Photo courtesy of Laura Shuler)
  • A floor at Brewster Middle School on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina appeared to be severely water damaged. Students returned to class Sept. 25. (Photo courtesy of Laura Shuler)
    A floor at Brewster Middle School on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina appeared to be severely water damaged. Students returned to class Sept. 25. (Photo courtesy of Laura Shuler)

An environmental safety team has cleared a middle school on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for use after parents early this week raised alarms over mold and water damage caused by Hurricane Florence.

"The industrial hygienists determined there were no findings or concerns that would prevent the safe return of students and staff to the school," officials with Department of Defense Education Activity said in a statement. "They subsequently directed school custodial crews to address any trouble spots or replace damaged ceiling tiles."

As students returned to Brewster Middle School Sept. 25, parents touring the school found mold on ceiling tiles, buckled floor areas and small bugs in a special needs area, among other problems.

But in a video posted to social media of a meeting with parents, a man reported to be school superintendent Todd Curkendall said environmental inspectors had not visited the school before it was reopened to staff and students.

"I understand people are sensitive," he said.

DoDEA officials with the hygiene team inspected the building, tested the air quality and ruled the building safe.

In a statement posted on Facebook, school officials said students who missed class Sept. 26 due to mold concerns will have their absences excused.

In a letter sent to Camp Lejeune parents today laying out his team's response, Curkendall said student safety is his focus, but that social media posts from parents had distorted the situation.

"Several issues in the Camp Lejeune Schools have been recently misrepresented on social media," he said. "We will work to keep you informed and welcome your questions and concerns."

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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