Former teacher sues schools over mold

Published 10:47 pm Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Former Booker T. Washington Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Cristina Hood filed a lawsuit against the Suffolk Public School Board Monday, claiming that the School Board knew about mold and humidity issues at the school and did nothing to fix the problems.

In the lawsuit, Hood said she began to feel physically ill within days of being in her classroom, and the conditions ultimately led to skin ailments, sinus infections and congestion problems. Hood also said in the suit that she repeatedly brought the problem to the attention of her supervisors, and was ignored.

Hood is suing for fraud in the inducement of the contract, actual fraud, violation of civil rights and intentional/willful negligence.

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“It’s really a sad commentary about the whole school,” said David Bailey, Hood’s attorney, who specializes in environmental law. “I’ve been in the school several times, and it’s a great school. Seeing that, and knowing what else was going on, just made me pretty angry about how two-faced the whole thing really is. If you’ve got a health problem like that, you’ve got to deal with it. You can’t tell people who have complained to either suck up or leave, and Mrs. Hood didn’t buy into that.”

According to the lawsuit, the school board had “full knowledge” of the damp indoor space problems at the school and “did not act to correct such problems and did not warn or advise” Hood of the conditions.

Hood is seeking $600,000 in damages.

Bethanne Bradshaw, public information officer for Suffolk Public Schools, said Wednesday morning that the lawsuit has yet to be served and that with pending litigation, she is unable to make comments.

Hood tried to bring a similar suit against the city last year, but dropped the charges when the city provided documentation that the School Board, not the city, owns the property.