Richmond school whistleblower: Students 'melting' in hot classrooms

Richmond school whistleblower: Students 'melting' in hot classrooms
Source: NBC12
Source: NBC12

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - An NBC12 investigation prompts an apology from Richmond school leaders. A school whistleblower claims students and teachers have been suffering with no air conditioning for weeks at Ginter Park Elementary.

"Ginter Park Elementary AC hasn't worked all spring for main classrooms. Principal's office AC blows cold while teachers and students melt in 90 degree classrooms," wrote the whistleblower in an email to Chris Thomas. "Multiple teachers are coughing up black mold from damp rooms. Some teachers have resorted to purchasing box fans and leaving doors and rooms open all day."

This AC drama in schools is an all too common occurrence across RVA, says Charlotte Hayer, who is president of the Richmond Education Association.

"It's an unbearable situation to be in the classroom," said Hayer. "It happens on a regular basis. We hope and pray that it doesn't happen because our buildings are old. The systems are old, and at any given time any of them can go out."

School leaders admit the Ginter Park ordeal is unacceptable.

"My apologies to the teachers who felt like they weren't getting the attention they deserved. They are right," said Thomas Kranz, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services. "We are normally much more responsive than that, and we will definitely try to be better the next time."

Kranz says the school submitted to requests for service, but he says those requests basically got lost in the shuffle.

"We have so many systems that will have problems when we start the day," said Kranz. "Your first priority is jumping to where you know it's kind of a crisis."

Crews are now making repairs, but that same whistleblower claims multiple teachers are coughing up black mold from damp rooms.

"We are doing the investigation as we speak, and we will address it very promptly as we do with every one that comes to our attention," said Kranz.

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