HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – A former teacher for Horry County Schools has filed a lawsuit against the district, alleging exposure to mold while at school led to numerous health issues.
According to the lawsuit filed Dec. 31, 2020 against the district and four individual schools, Mary Burroughs taught at St. James Elementary School, Seaside Elementary School, Lakewood Elementary School, and Socastee Middle School during the 2016-2019 school years.
During that time, Burroughs said she continued to suffer from severe headaches, short-term memory loss, a lack of energy, watery eyes, dizziness, congestion in her nose and throat, and nerve issues in her hands and fingers, the lawsuit states.
Burroughs alleges she did not suffer from these ailments before working for the school district. A medical and allergy test revealed exposure to mold, according to the suit.
The plaintiff claims she reported problems with her modular classroom at St. James Elementary as having a mildew odor and mold problems on numerous occasions to not only the school’s custodian and maintenance personnel, but also the principal.
According to the lawsuit, HCS had knowledge of water damage, water leaks, and mold issues for years within numerous schools, including St. James Elementary.
“Despite defendants having knowledge of water damage, water leaks, and mold issues for years within Horry County Schools including, but not limited to, St. James Elementary School the Defendants refused and or neglected to make necessary repairs and remove toxic mold from numerous school buildings including, but not limited to, St. James Elementary School,” the suit states.
In the fall of 2018, a company was brought in to attempt to “mitigate the severe and hazardous toxic mold issues” at St. James Elementary over a week, according to court documents. Burroughs alleges when she returned to her classroom, it was covered with dust, dirt and mold.
The lawsuit states that Burroughs was told to “wipe off the mold and dust with Clorox and a towel, and to continue to hold her class in the contaminated modular unit.”
“The Plaintiff and numerous students reported being sick immediately after returning to the modular classroom after the Plaintiff reported to the Defendants that her classroom was covered in dust and mold,” court documents state.
In February 2019, work was done to rid St. James Elementary of mold. Weeks after that cleaning, an indoor air quality report revealed that mold still existed in one classroom. A report released March 14, 2019 stated that mold was no longer found in that room.
Burroughs states in the lawsuit that she continued to receive medical treatment for her health issues related to exposure to “toxic mold.”
“Defendants failed to provide the Plaintiff, other teachers, employees, and students with a school that was safe from hazardous and toxic conditions in blatant violation of their duties and obligations to the well being and safety of employees, staff, and students,” the lawsuit states.
Burroughs is seeking unspecified damages.
This is the second such lawsuit filed in a month against Horry County Schools. On Nov. 30, the family of a former St. James Elementary student sued the district, alleging he became sick due to exposure to mold at the school.
WMBF News has reached out to Horry County Schools seeking comment on the lawsuit.