Durant High School students walk out to protest mold concerns

Published: Sep. 21, 2016 at 10:23 AM CDT
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Students at Durant High School staged a walk-out protest over mold concerns on Wednesday.

About 200 students and parents took part in the protest, saying the school has been keeping quiet about an alleged mold problem and that it has become a health issue.

All of the parents we spoke said the kids are doing the right thing.

“They are standing up for their rights,” Lorrie Holland said. “They’re doing it peacefully. I’m very proud.”

Many said they feel like the school has not done enough to keep their children safe.

“I don’t feel comfortable sending my child back to school,” Jessica Brownrigg said. “He’s got asthma. I don’t feel comfortable with him breathing that.”

“I just want to be allowed in the library to read the books or the band room without thinking I’m going to get an asthma attack or anything like that,” student Anthony Hammons said.

Durant Superintendent Duane Merideth said the parts of the school are closed due to a relative humidity problem.

“There was just a few books with a little mildew on them we cleaned them we said lets shut this down until we figure this out,” Merideth said.

Merideth said there are no visible signs of mold.

“The air quality of the location samples is well within accepted levels,” Meredith said. “No corrective measures are needed.”

Merideth said they’re still waiting on the results of more in-depth testing performed by another company.

Others said the school is doing too little too late and punishing students for exercising their first amendment rights.

“They’re telling me that they’re not able to go in and use the restroom they’re being denied access to a restroom while they’re up there,” Janet Green said.

Students said the school actually locked the doors earlier this morning to prevent the protest from happening, but the school said it was just a safety precaution.

“I think it’s wrong,” Green said. “Very much so. They have talked about them not being able to play sports. And you’re going to punish a child? What happened to us being American citizens and our first amendment rights?”

Green, a nurse, delivered three cases of water to the students to make sure they didn’t get heat exhaustion while protesting. She also gave masks out to the students to give their parents to help spread the word about what was going on at the school.

Delinda Knox, Director of Safe and Drug Free Schools, said they are not suspending any students or kicking students of school teams, despite what anyone may have heard. The students will simply be marked absent from whatever classes they missed throughout the day.

Knox said the library will be reopened once they have all the air quality results back.

Holland said she can’t understand how such a new school is having such an issue.

“It should not have this problem,” Holland said. “And this problem should have been taken care of before the kids were forced to come here.”

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