Tempers Fly At Scranton School Board Meeting; Prescott To Close

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SCRANTON -- The Scranton School Board meeting threatened to get out of control Monday night after a shouting match broke out between parents and board members.

At issue, the lack of communication over the discovery of mold at Prescott Elementary.

Board members admitted there was very poor communication between themselves and district administrators about that mold.

But the board said now is the time to focus the problem and voted to temporarily close Prescott.

The Scranton School Board meeting was temporarily halted as a screaming match erupted between parents, teachers and members of the board.

“Think about your re-election, which is going right down the tubes,” yelled a parent.

“You know what? Tonight I’m not thinking about re-election, I’m thinking about your children,” board president Bob Lesh fired back.

Those in the packed basement at Immaculate Conception Church were outraged over the discovery of mold in the cafeteria of Prescott Elementary School, which was detected in the spring.

However the board and the administrators say they weren’t informed until this September.

“Nobody on the this board knew about this, Mr. Brazil has stated he didn’t know about it, Mr. King didn’t know about, so nobody knew about this report except for Mr. Guzek’s office who issued it,” said parent Michael McGrath.

Members of the board admitted to poor communication between them.

“I wish we knew about this sooner and being part of the school board, I’ll take blame for not acting on this quicker and not finding out about it quicker,” said board member William Fox.

After tempers cooled, both parents and teachers brought stories of children and staff suffering from respiratory problems since the start of school.

“My daughter missed, I think, the entire second week of school and I wonder if there’s been a spike in absenteeism this year,” said another parent.

At the meeting the board unanimously voted to temporarily close Prescott while the mold is removed and to relocate students to the former Nativity School on Hemlock Street in South Scranton.

This is the second school to be closed due to mold.

The district permanently shut down Audubon Elementary in the spring.

Dozens of Audubon students were transferred to Prescott.

“The other school that a number of those children were going to go to is now having mold problems. Those kids were moved around for two years,” said another parent.

The district plans to move the students to nativity by October 29.  The hope is to have the children back at Prescott Elementary by February, 2013.

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