Saturday, January 18, 2014

BREAKING NEWS! Mold Confirmed at Hinsdale Middle School. School will Remain Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Moments ago, D181 parents were finally told the truth.  Mold has been confirmed at Hinsdale Middle School.  The school will NOT REOPEN and will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Below, we have copied the email parents received at 10:38 p.m. on Saturday night from Dr. Schuster.  Why did it take her until almost midnight to send this to us?  She continues to insist that the mold test results were not received by D181 until sometime today (Saturday, 1/18) but a review of the report now posted on a D181 webpage that has been created shows that the report is dated Friday, 1/17.  (Click to open the report on the Mold Test Results.)  On what date and at what time did the D181 administration receive the report?  If they received it either "late" on 1/17 -- when Dr. Schuster earlier told the parents it would arrive,  or early Saturday, if in fact the test company did not deliver it on 1/17, why did Dr. Schuster sit on the report and not immediately provide it to parents?

Note that in her email to parents, Dr. Schuster claims that there will be a parent meeting the night before school reopens.  She then says this will take place on Wednesday or Thursday, which obviously means that school might not reopen on Thursday either.  While Dr. Schuster says the testing company will be available to answer questions about their report, she does not say whether or not SHE or the BOARD OF EDUCATION will answer questions.  Will the meeting even be scheduled as a Board meeting?  Will the Board members even be in attendance?

According to Dr. Schuster's email, the results from the mold test showed "low concentration of mold spores on the drywall and surface samples tested."  However, obviously the results were serious enough to keep HMS closed through at least Wednesday, perhaps Thursday.  New mold test results are pending and there is also reference in the mold report to the possibility that the HVAC system in the building has been compromised and spores may be circulating throughout the school via this system.  If the new tests come back as positive for more mold, what will this mean?  Will the school remain shuttered indefinitely?  HMS students will have missed a minimum of 5 instructional days (6 if school remains closed on Thursday). There is no doubt that this means that for them, the school year will not end on June 5, 2014.

As mentioned above, two full weeks after the first pipe burst on January 4, D181 has created a webpage  that gives a detailed timeline of the mold found at HMS.  Test result reports are also linked to this page.  We have copied the "history timeline" in its entirety below, but for those of you who want to see it on the D181 website and access all of the reports, you can click on the following link:

Why has it taken this long to provide the community with all of this information?

WHEN WILL DR.SCHUSTER WAKE UP and start acting like a responsible superintendent? WHEN WILL THE BOARD DEMAND THIS? The end of her employment in D181 cannot come soon enough!

Letter from Dr. Schuster:

Dear District 181 Community:

This message is to provide you with the results of the mold testing conducted at HMS by Integrity Environmental Services on Thursday, January 16. Additional updates are described below and require the immediate attention of HMS families and staff.

The results from indoor air quality testing conducted on January 10 after the water damage occurred show the air quality to be well within acceptable guidelines. On January 16, surface samples were taken of possible mold growth observed by SERVPRO staff, who were on site to perform deep cleaning and removal of wet drywall. The results from these samples showed low concentrations of mold spores on the drywall and surface samples tested.

A webpage has been created to provide timely and accurate information regarding the HMS facility challenges that are being addressed. We encourage all HMS families and staff to visit the page for a detailed background of these facility issues and to see further updates as they are announced. We have also posted the written reports from the testing that has been conducted. The webpage can be found at > Schools > HMS > Facility Updates.

The District is working with SERVPRO and Integrity Environmental Services to eradicate the mold following the microbial remediation guidelines provided by Integrity, which are posted on the webpage. After this work is complete, additional testing will be completed prior to resuming classes at HMS.

Perhaps most important to note is that Hinsdale Middle School ONLY will be closed on Tuesday, January 21 and Wednesday, January 22.(As a reminder, all District 181 schools are closed on Monday.) HMS staff will not be in school on Tuesday. However, HMS staff members are asked to check their email for information regarding professional development taking place on Wednesday.

The evening before we resume classes, there will be a meeting where parents and staff can tour the facility and hear reports from representatives from SERVPRO and Integrity Environmental Services. We anticipate that this meeting will occur on Wednesday or Thursday evening. Please visit the HMS Facility Updates webpage for the confirmed meeting date and time, information about school event cancelations or rescheduling, calendar adjustments and other important news.

In partnership with all of our families, staff and community leaders, we will continue working together to support our HMS school community.


Dr. Renée Schuster

Timeline of Events found on D181 webpage created to address Mold Issues at HMS:

HMS Facility Background and Updates 

July 2012

In mid-July of 2012, the Buildings and Grounds Department (B&G) discovered mold in an upstairs bathroom at Hinsdale Middle School (HMS). B&G staff searched for additional mold in the building; additional mold was found on the wall between the choir room and the music room, in the custodial closet in the kitchen area, and on the walls in other bathrooms. It was determined that the mold was due to several factors, all water related: a leak in a pipe, missing caulking in a custodial closet, and the manner in which bathrooms were mopped. A qualified, licensed mold remediation contractor worked under the supervision of environmental consultants Hygieneering, Inc. (Willowbrook, IL), who were engaged to abate all areas where mold was discovered. A local contractor, Robert Yiu Construction (Hinsdale, IL), replaced the drywall with a concrete drywall application, selected because it helps to prevent additional mold growth. Before the start of the 2012-13 school year, air quality tests were conducted, and it was confirmed that air quality was within federal and state requirements. Additionally, the leaking pipe was repaired, caulking was added to the custodial closet, and cleaning methods were addressed. 

August 2013

In mid-August, the HMS custodial staff discovered mold on the lower drywall of classroom 223 near an exterior window. B&G staff searched for additional mold in the building; additional mold was found in classrooms 225 and 228. Hygieneering, Inc. assisted in further evaluations and remediation of the identified mold. In the addressed areas, the bottom 2-4 feet of drywall was removed. Per a recommendation from Hygieneering, Inc., a mold and moisture assessment was conducted to evaluate whether or not similar conditions existed in other areas. The assessment included second floor perimeter rooms, including closets and accessible exterior, partition and interior walls. In all areas, no visible mold growth was observed on readily accessible drywall, and no moldy or musty odors were observed. Three small isolated sections of drywall indicated elevated moisture levels; no elevated moisture was observed above the vinyl base. The source of the moisture could not be determined. Hygieneering, Inc. recommended removal of the isolated sections of wet drywall within the next few months.

October 2013 / Columbus Day Weekend

Previously planned work per the recommendation from Hygieneering, Inc. was completed. Isolated sections of wet drywall were removed and replaced. Hygieneering, Inc. confirmed the area was safe for students and staff to return to school following the three-day Columbus Day weekend. Hygieneering, Inc. suggested engaging a structural engineering firm to review the moisture findings and assist in identifying the source(s). A firm was contacted and suggested a detailed building inspection when weather conditions permitted. 

November 26 – December 23, 2013 

Integrity Environmental Services (Naperville) was contracted to conduct an independent air quality test due to the previous mold issues at the school and staff reports of health concerns. The air quality test was conducted at various times between November 26 and December 23. (Results were received on Tuesday, January 14; results showed the air quality to be well within acceptable guidelines.) 

Saturday, January 4 

At approximately 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 4, an HMS teacher was in the school and observed water dripping in the music room. The teacher contacted the principal, who contacted the B&G Facilities Coordinator. A frozen domestic water pipe in room 215 was shut off, and the leak was stopped. Buckets were placed under the leaks until the flow of water ceased. At approximately 8:00 p.m., the District received a call from Hinsdale Fire Department. They responded to an alarm triggered by water flow in the sprinkler system, due to the extreme weather. The Hinsdale Fire Department’s responsive and immediate efforts to address the resulting water damage were exceptional. B&G Staff joined Hinsdale Fire on scene. The water damage affected all three floors. ACR (Wheeling), a disaster recovery company which previously worked with the District, was called in to assist with the clean up. They were on site with staff and equipment within five hours of the alarm to clear the water, dehumidify the air, and install HEPA filters to clean the air. The ACR crew and B&G staff worked collaboratively to address the building needs over the course of the next several hours, into the morning of Sunday, January 5. The alarm company was on site to reset and reactivate the alarm and temporarily repair the sprinkler break. 

Sunday, January 5

District 181 joined neighboring districts throughout the region in announcing that the entire District would be closed on Monday, January 6 due to the extreme cold weather. The cleaning at HMS continued through the day. Fans, dehumidifiers and air scrubbers with HEPA filtration continued to operate throughout the school to expedite the drying process.

Monday, January 6

District 181 schools were not in session. District 181 announced that the entire District would be closed on Tuesday, January 7, again due to the extreme cold. Cleaning and air filtration continued throughout the day. MRC books were placed in temporary shelves and cases. 

Tuesday, January 7

District 181 schools were not in session. Cleaning continued throughout the day in preparation for students and staff to return to school on Wednesday, January 8.

Wednesday, January 8

Shortly before student and staff arrival to school, a domestic water pipe broke in room 216, causing additional water damage to the music room below. Crews continued to clean and address the building needs. Some classrooms were unusable, and affected staff were moved to other areas of the building.

Thursday, January 9

Cleaning continued throughout the day as exterior temperatures rose. The increase in temperature caused water to briefly drip from the roof onto the ceiling of the second floor, identified through water spots on the ceiling tiles.

Friday, January 10

Integrity Environmental Services, Inc. conducted an air quality test. (Results were received on Thursday, January 16; results showed the air quality to be well within acceptable guidelines.) Replacement bookshelves were ordered for the MRC. Rain on January 10 exceeded the capacity of the school’s gutter and downspout systems, which were compromised by ice build-up. As temperatures warmed and ice vacated the gutters, interior leaks subsided substantially.

January 10, 11, 12 

B&G staff provided 24-hour monitoring of the building to ensure no additional weather-related leaks would appear and no other mechanical systems were compromised during the extreme weather. 

Monday, January 13

Cleaning continued throughout the day. A regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting was held that evening. Two staff members provided public comment regarding student and staff health concerns. Superintendent Dr. Renée Schuster and Board members discussed the need to develop both short- and long-term solutions, as well as address the root cause(s) of the building’s issues. The District Facilities Committee provided a report to the Board. (The committee began meeting in October 2013 to develop a Master Facilities Plan, with a primary focus of addressing HMS.) Joining the committee for the Board presentation were representatives from architectural firm Healy, Bender and Associates (Naperville, IL). The Board approved the firm’s development of an Educational Adequacy Analysis, to include an analysis of the air quality test results (not yet received at that time).

Tuesday, January 14

Results from the air quality test conducted in November and December were received on Tuesday, January 14; results showed the air quality to be well within acceptable guidelines. Healy, Bender and Associates architects suggested working with SERVPRO (LaGrange, Burr Ridge, Hinsdale, IL). District leaders met with SERVPRO representatives on January 14; they toured the facility and highlighted areas that had not yet dried.

Wednesday, January 15

SERVPRO began working at the school.

Thursday, January 16

Results from the air quality test conducted on January 10 were received; results showed the air quality to be well within acceptable guidelines. SERVPRO tested walls for wetness and removed drywall; their staff identified possible mold growth. A representative from Integrity Environmental Services took surface samples of possible mold growth observed by SERVPRO staff, who were on site to perform deep cleaning and removal of wet drywall; results were received January 18. The results from these samples showed low concentrations of mold spores on the drywall and surface samples tested. It was announced that HMS would be closed on Friday, January 17 as District leaders awaited the results of the mold test and allowed additional time for SERVPRO to clean the building and continue addressing affected areas with no students or staff present. It was anticipated the school would be open on Tuesday, January 21.

Friday, January 17

HMS was not in session; all other District 181 schools remained open. SERVPRO staff continued to clean and address affected areas. Roof architect Arcon (Lombard, IL) was on site to assess any roof damage to provide an estimate for work that may be needed. The school’s building engineer identified a water leak in the main city water line coming into the building, likely due to the extreme weather changes. It was considered an extremely minimal leak, but required shutting off the water to the building. (Fire protection water is separate; that system was not compromised.) The leak was repaired and no further water interruption is anticipated. 

Saturday, January 18

Written results from the mold test conducted on January 16 were received; results from the samples showed low concentrations of mold spores on the drywall and surface samples tested. The SERVPRO staff continued to clean and sealed areas to prevent future mold growth. During their work, it was determined that additional time was needed due to the scale of work and the need to clean the MRC carpets. Renovations began in rooms 215 and 216, with remaining floor tile removed in room 216 and substantial drywall work completed in room 215. Additionally, the two domestic water pipe leaks were repaired. A mold test was conducted at the end of the day to determine any change in mold levels; results are expected by Wednesday, January 22. 

What’s Happening Next

Sunday, January 19 and Monday, January 20

Cleaning will continue throughout the day.

Tuesday, January 21

HMS will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday to allow additional time to clean the school and await the results of the latest mold tests. A hygienist will be on site to test the air, collect additional samples, and observe the work being conducted by SERVPRO. Students will not be in attendance. HMS staff will not be in attendance on Tuesday, January 21. However, on Wednesday, January 22, HMS staff will participate in professional development at an off-site location.

Wednesday, January 22

Results from the mold tests are expected to arrive. HMS students will not be in attendance. HMS staff will participate in professional development at an off-site location; professional development will be lead by the District administration.

Wednesday, January 22 or Thursday, January 23

On either Wednesday, January 22, or Thursday, January 23, we will hold a meeting for the purpose of addressing the HMS facility issues. HMS parents and staff and any interested community members are encouraged to attend. Representatives from SERVPRO and Integrity will present reports and answer questions. Attendees will have an opportunity to tour the building prior to classes being resumed. The meeting date and time will be communicated as soon as it is confirmed. 

Other Notes 


In considering the calendar for the school year, the Board of Education will have several options. District leaders will present those options to the Board at a future meeting. HMS families and staff should be aware that previously scheduled non-attendance days may be recommended as attendance days for HMS to offset missed school days.

School Event Notices 

  • The choir concert scheduled for January 16 was rescheduled for January 23. Should the results of testing show cause for the facility to continue to be closed to students and staff, an alternate location will be announced, or the event will be rescheduled again.
  • The combined band rehearsal on Tuesday, January 21 will take place at Clarendon Hills Middle School. Buses will still pick up elementary students from their school and bring them to CHMS. Families will need to provide transportation home at 3:30 p.m. from CHMS (301 Chicago Avenue in Clarendon Hills). Rehearsal is ending 15 minutes earlier to help alleviate possible heavy traffic. Percussionists ONLY will stay until 4:30 p.m. Students will exit through the school’s front doors.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So, Marty Turek, Gary Clarin, Heather Scott, a HCHTA representative, and a Servpro representative are meeting today at HMS to examine the situation. Where is Dr. Schuster????? Could she possibly be in Arizona? If she is NOT meeting with the above mentioned people today at HMS, she needs to be FIRED!!!!! And, those BOE members who do not want to fired Dr. Schuster need to be FIRED! This entire situation is totally unbelievable!!!