Horry County Schools covered up ‘toxic mold’ while students and teachers got sick, lawsuit claims

State News

Credit: Picture in lawsuit filed against Horry County Schools by Mary Burroughs

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Schools knew about toxic mold in multiple schools but instead of quickly fixing the problem, the district covered it up and allowed students and teachers to get sick, according to a second lawsuit filed against the district. 

The latest lawsuit was filed by former St. James Elementary School teacher Mary Burroughs. 

While working for the district from 2016 to 2019, Burroughs began experiencing symptoms, including severe headaches, congestion, memory loss, and nerve issues with her hands, the suit says. An allergy test revealed mold exposure. 

Burroughs repeatedly reported the smell of mildew and mold in her modular classroom, she claims. Tests showed “toxic mold levels” in “numerous” Horry County schools, according to the lawsuit. Aside from St. James Elementary, no other school is named. 

After the district hired a mold remediation company in fall 2018, Burroughs returned to her classroom full of dust and mold, the lawsuit says. She claims the principal told her to “just wipe off the mold and dust with Clorox and a towel.” 

She and “numerous students” immediately got sick, she alleges. The classroom was “eventually put out of use” to stop the exposure “to severe toxic mold and moist conditions.” 

A lawsuit filed on behalf of a St. James student in November said the district only hired a remediation company after years of neglect, but the company wasn’t qualified to do the work, and a second company had to come in. 

Parents of St. James Elementary students confronted the school board in February 2019, arguing mold caused their children to develop chronic illnesses. They presented a petition with about 1,250 signatures, demanding that a third-party engineering firm study the building. 

Burroughs’ lawsuit claims the district “intentionally and maliciously covered up the water and mold issues” so that teachers and students would continue coming to the district’s “unsafe and hazardous schools.” 

The lawsuit does not explain how the issues were covered up, but it says the district knew about problems for years. 

The district didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the latest lawsuit. A spokesperson said the district can’t comment on pending litigation when asked in December about the student’s lawsuit. 

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