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Health concerns prompt Detroit school closure

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A west Detroit school is temporarily closed amid concerns about the building’s condition, including possible mold, district officials said.

Over the weekend, environmental clean-up crews started addressing water damage and testing for harmful mold at Palmer Park Preparatory Academy, the Detroit Public Schools Community District said in a statement Monday.

The clean-up includes replacing ceiling tiles, treating water-damaged areas and relocating damaged classrooms, according to the statement.

The school building, which serves students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, was closed on Monday and is scheduled to remain shut Tuesday, the district said.

“Please know that we are committed to making facility improvements in the school and will continue to keep you updated on our progress,” Superintendent Nikolai Vitti wrote in a letter to staff and parents.

Vitti has called a special meeting with Palmer Park staff on Tuesday morning to discuss facility concerns. He also recently directed the facilities department to begin exploring ways to replace the roof. Work could begin this spring if a proposal request is issued, Vitti said.

When the board of education meets later Tuesday, member LaMar Lemmons plans to discuss the issue.

“I’m very concerned about how I believe we were misled by our facilities department as to the condition of the building,” he said.

The concerns come about two years after the discovery of mold, water damage, rodent infestations and other problems in district schools triggered public outrage and mass teacher sickouts.

The district spent millions on a massive overhaul to bring buildings up to code.

The board in January approved a $945,000 contract with an architecture, engineering, and planning service firm to assess all school buildings for upgrades. A final report is due this summer.