Sunday, February 16, 2014

HMS Mold Follow Up: ABC Channel 7 Eyewitness News I-Team Story to Air Monday Night at 10 P.M.

Moments ago we were alerted through a comment to the following ABC Channel 7 Eyewitness News Story that will air on Monday (2/17) night during the 10 pm news:

Stay tuned.....


Anonymous said...

What a disappointment!

Just when it seemed like there is some hope of actually moving forward with thoughtful progress in dealing with the substantive issues we are going to waste time with idiots hyping THE HORRORS OF BLACK MOLD like some kind of late night movie...

Are we going to have Dave Savini sweeping the faculty lounges for traces of "bodily fluids" too? The torment of TV Sweeps Week |Crain's Chicago Business

Folks this is JUNK reporting done for sensationalism and puerile interests. Lots of people that live in lesser areas want to believe that HMS is a garbage heap and the previous tone of too many posts hear would have given them lots of evidence to support that.

I will have a stop watching running to time how many seconds pass after the airing of that report and the chorus of crazed cries to "tear down that toxic dump" come swarming out of clueless corners.

I hope some "developing story" crops up and this Goudy-trash never airs.

190 North State Street
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Breaking News Hotline: (312) 750-7070

Contact these bozos! Station Info WLS TV
So Not Looking Forward to Nonsense!

The Parents said...

We have published this information because it is relevant to what happened at Hinsdale Middle School. ABC News is a respected news organization, and Chuck Goudie is highly respected as an investigative reporter. We doubt the story will be "sensationalist" but will hopefully report the facts. Both Dr. Schuster and other D181 staff were interviewed for the story, so obviously they felt that this coverage was in order. They could have declined. We are sure teachers and parents of students who became sick while at HMS and believe it was caused by mold will be interested in the I-Team's report. We are just announcing the story so everyone who follows this blog is aware when it will air.

Anonymous said...

When an upscale community with a longstanding reputation of academic leadership systematically ignores its responsibilities resulting in a school closed for a month raising child endangerment issues, it’s news.

This wouldn’t be news in Harvey or Robbins or East St. Louis but it raises the question, “Is Hinsdale a mere Potemkin Village?”

An opulent fa├žade hiding crumbling infrastructure, broken roads and unsafe schools.

jay_wick said...

Re: Phony Propaganda

I would urge any concerned parent / community member to tour HMS. I did. I think I saw local expert Dr. Norton there too, his firm has extensive experience in remediation of bio-hazards.

Literally millions of dollars have been spent to ensure that HMS is a safe, comfortable and entirely educationally appropriate facility for the middle schoolers in our district. There is no reason to foolishly wish for a shiny new building!

btw -- The anonymous poster of the scare tactics ought to do a little better research -- Were Potemkin Villages Every Built in Russia? The real lesson is instead A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

The fear mongers are going to have to do better than merely using their connections to media personalities to help them induce panic! This is especially true when those media personalities obvious focus on the superficial harms their own ability to fully communicate -- .

That last comment is especially relevant to the continued over reliance on telephonic communication that one BOE member seems to abuse -- this is not about mere appearances, the decisions one makes effects the overall message one hopes to convey.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that the issue of mold has been hyped, I find that the obsessive desire to control information flow reflected by the first comment above reflects both a) lack of sophistication regarding the significance of the mold issue and b) lack of understanding of the merits of the open exchange of information.

The first poster above, the pro censorship fellow, seems to overlook why the mold issue is significant. It is not that mold was found, it was that mold and structural issues were ignored while Mike Nelson went round the world, Schuster worked on her cactus garden, Schneider pursued social justice concepts, and Marty Turek showed up at meetings but soley for the purpose of protecting Schuster. It is likely true that mold is not dangerous to many, although it is in fact dangerous to people with impaired immmune systems and can degrade structural integrity of buildings. The management point is, why did it come this? Why did the district fail to take action despite notice? The broader management point is that if the administration and the BOE fail to act on obvious and easily understood issues, what about their attention to more sophisticated issues such as curriculum, facilities planning, and special ed.

The second point, that also reflects lack of sophistication, is that airing the issues on the blog allows folks such as the pro censorship fellow to point out that mold issues are in fact overly hyped (a point I agreed with infact.) With or without the blog the story is going to air. By linking to it, pro censorship fellow can rail against the news casters and make his point. Absent linking, people would hear the story and be deprived of his point of view. As such, by railing against the news story on the blog, pro censorship fellow has re-affirmed the merits of open exchange.


Jens Glager

jay_wick said...


Without pulling the conversation too far afield I would like to first agree that the mold thing is absolutely getting over hyped.

Second I agree that censorship is not a desirable thing, especially in regard to the operation of any elected / governmental body.

Where I would differ is that I believe there may be links between folks that would profit, either directly or by association, with folks that would rise up to demand HMS be replaced. Sadly more of than a few folks that would call for such an expensive and wasteful endeavor are of the ilk that want shiny new automobiles with exotic technology not for any real benefit but simply because such things are a manifestation of materialism and status...

Perhaps the report will come and go but if folks that have in the past suggested a very different use for the HMS site suddenly re-float their proposals I certainly hope folks are sufficiently aware of potential nefarious linkages.

jay_wick said...

Given the visually impressive stacks of documents that the "I-Team" seems to have produced there really does seem to have not a whole lot of info uncovered.

No doubt the "desperately needed new roof" will be either funded quickly or some concerned parties will suggest a more costly option...

I wonder if the National Council of Roofing contractors would have useful information about how long one should go between re-roofing? Oh golly Current Roof Depreciation Schedule too long at 39 years | National Roofing Contractors Association

jay_wick said...

If anyone care the comment about rats and ghosts appears to come from a HMS language arts teacher in a comical email to another staff member. See pg 26 of the second ABC FOIA pdf

John Norton said...

This is John Norton. Been a stressful week. Yes, the mold issue is a *bit* over-hyped. However numerous examples of black mold and sick building syndrome exist. Imagine working all day in a dank, watery basement? Truly that itself is an issue. Would you shop at a grocery that looked like that? Or buy coffee or have a business meeting at a coffee shop with such issues? Those issues negatively impact the teaching environment. If the issues return and there are only 10% of the children impacted, that’s 2 to 3 children in a classroom on average with such symptoms. How many of you adults work in scenarios such as that? Now imagine the challenge not with mature adults, but with 12-year olds trying to focus.

More important, the mold issue reveals two significant concerns with the district: management and transparency.

The first issue of management is the systematic failure of the district to properly address the water leaks and other building integrity issues. It’s a simple matter of custodial care. If you paid me to watch your house for a year while you were away in a another country, and the basement flooded, or the roof leaked, and mold started growing everywhere, and I *didn’t* develop and implement a plan to address the problem(s), I suggest you might be justifiably upset. You trusted me to be a caretaker but I shirked my duties.

The second issue is transparency of operations and intent. The district has not yet provided any statement of qualifications for the contractor they hired to oversee the cleanup work. In contrast, I have learned through two different sources that officials in the administration have specifically told the contractors not to talk with me or provide me information. Following my example above about watching your house, if I billed you for hiring an old friend of mine to replace your moldy carpet and wallboard and I couldn’t demonstrate his expertise or justify his costs, I suggest you might also be justifiably upset.

The district needs to develop and implement a plan to ensure the proper operations and maintenance of the district facilities and infrastructure. Maintenance is not mops and brooms. Maintenance implies technical capability to recognize infrastructural problems and to successfully develop and implement solutions. Currently the district does not have anyone in that capacity. Based on what I’ve seen the past few weeks that individual also has to have fairly significant force of personality to advocate the issues and to see them through to conclusion.

I am not aware of any plan or effort by the district to provide for the resolution of the three building issues: 1) roof integrity, 2) structural/plumping defects, and 3) HVAC performance. Those three issues need to be addressed ASAP or else the recent cleaning efforts will soon be overrun with mold again. It does grow back, as the ABC-provided emails and documents clearly demonstrate.
Respectfully submitted,

- John Norton
- 312-550-1274

PS: Yes, from the video you can see I still have my two Christmas Trees up. I love Christmas and we do still have snow! (grin)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wick,
There are plenty of people in town who would like to see a new HMS built besides those who may profit from such a decision. And it doesn't mean that we are "wasteful", "materialistic","foolish" or in search of an increase in social status as you've implied.
It is common knowledge throughout the community that HMS has had a variety of significant issues since the day it was built - a gym on the third floor that creates a significant amount of noise for the 2nd floor classrooms below it, an unsecured commons and lunch area that allows access to a large number of students right inside the front door during much of the day, poor ventilation which has resulted not only in the mold but extreme hot and cold spots throughout the building, classrooms with odd angled walls and ceilings which impair student sightlines to teachers and lesson materials, a circuitous layout which makes passing from class to class time consuming and inefficient, space issues that arise from ill placed walls added when the open classroom concept lost favor, the list goes on and on. Not to mention the expensive repairs and improvements that we continue to make to it year after year. Enough is enough. I don't know of one current or former HMS parent who believes that the school provides an optimum learning environment and most believe it should have been torn down years ago. As a parent of children who currently attend and will attend HMS, I don't need to take an isolated tour to inform myself of the state of the building, my children and I have been in all areas of the building day in and day out for years. Since you do not have students who attend HMS, I would encourage you to listen to those of us who do with an open mind. You may still disagree with the building of a new school but to summarily dismiss the opinions of those of us who have lived with this disaster is arrogant and short sighted. The building of a new school is an expensive and important decision, one that shouldn't be taken lightly. However, I certainly hope that the BOE, administration and community will consider tearing the current building down and building new just as was done at Prospect, Walker and CHMS. Hinsdale residents voted for your new Clarendon Hills schools and paid for them with our property tax dollars because we believed that all D181 students deserve to learn in in a safe, healthy and effective environment that not only benefits the students themselves but also improves and preserves property values within the community. We mustn't forget that the vast majority of people that move to this community do so because of the schools. I don't believe that the current HMS building accurately reflects the value that the majority of residents place on education.

jay_wick said...

Re: Facilities

I fought for a more transparent process of hiring the "energy management" firm that oversaw the replacement and upgrades to the HVAC system at HMS.I even hired an attorney at my own expense in preparation of a law suit against the district for violations related to the contract itself. I only dropped those plans when the energy management firm agreed to extend the warranties that covered the new system. I do not need to be reminded that this is one district.

I also directly confronted and turned back opposition to the referendum that supported the construction of Walker and other upgrades to district schools despite the fact that I did not directly benefit from those efforts because I live in an area served by other district schools. I recognized that opposition to that referendum was based on faulty knowledge. Anyone that thinks I do other than put the needs of all the district children first has not paid attention to the issues I choose to get behind.

I oppose any wasteful expenditure based on faulty premises. The fact is that any perceived deficiencies in the layout of any of the districts existing schools can be addressed in a way that is far more respectful of the environment than removal and replacement of the entire facility. I know the district made significant upgrades to all the facilities to improve security. I know the district specifically made expenditure to improve vehicular circulation at many of the facilities. I am acutely aware of all aspects of classroom environment on learning -- one of my children suffers from a congenital birth defect that severely impacts their hearing. I know the way to deal with those needs is not to rebuild the school.

I see the same pattern of poorly informed community members pushing for changes that will not result in improvements to student learning that I saw when the district was pressured into making changes in the mathematics curriculum and changes in the offerings for our most talented students. The district is now suffering the negative consequences of what they were pressured into. I do not want these mistakes repeated as should any well informed person.

I sincerely hope the efforts of more parents and community members to become better informed about the performance of the all the children help guide them in the most appropriate needs of the district.

jay_wick said...

Re: Facilities Stewardship

I cannot agree more strongly with Dr. Norton's conclusions about the district's approach to facilities.

With so many facilities getting such intensive usage it is unacceptable to have other than a real professional with not just the training / certification needed to ensure a safe / efficient environment for district staff and students but also the appropriate authority and experience to speak out about the needs of the facilities and the risks of deferred action.

I personally called for the district to either replace the prior "director of buildings & grounds" with an actual professional trained as a architect or professional engineer. At the very least the district should utilize a professional architecture firm not just for "project work" but to ensure on-going attention to all aspects of the physical surroundings is done in a systemic manner.

The value of the district's physical plant is no doubt in excess of many Loop highrises. Any property management staff at such a highrise would ensure that appropriate staffing decisions were made to protect the value of their building.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Norton, for the information!!