Howard County teacher submits resignation letter over health issues experienced in school buildings

Posted at 10:55 AM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 18:24:03-05

A Howard County Public Schools teacher said she's resigning "on the grounds that the school system does not have the health of their staff and students in their best interest."

ABC2 obtained a copy of the letter dated Feb. 14 from Howard County teacher Lindsay Jensen to Kirk Thompson, the Director of Human Resources. Jensen taught at Glenwood Middle School during the 2013-2014 school year. During that time, she said she experienced heart palpitations, extreme dizziness, shortness of breath and on one occasion had to be taken to the emergency room. 

According to Jensen, she didn’t realize the cause of her symptoms was from the mold in the building. She came to this conclusion after she attended a staff meeting that discussed mold remediation at HCPSS and that it had been “completed."

She stated at that meeting HCPSS central office staff members indicated that they would not be reporting the building conditions to parents. After seeing other parents and staff members experience symptoms from the mold, she decided that it was her "duty as a teacher" to email parents about her symptoms in case their child was experiencing similar symptoms. Jensen said she was threatened with suspension but that was taken off the table after she apologized for telling parents about her symptoms while in the school building.

Jensen claims the "mold problems" in Glenwood Middle School have not been completely remediated and several other school buildings in the county are experiencing similar issues. 

RELATED: Read Jensen's full letter

HCPSS Communications Director John White said he understands why there would be concerns but that the school is clean and healthy. 

"I think it’s just important for people to know that that school has been independently reviewed that an entire new heating and air conditioning has been put in that school," said White. "There are 44 environmental quality reports posted to the school website at this time. In fact, the County Executive hired an independent firm to review that school also. It has been deemed healthy and safe to occupy, so we will continue to monitor that school and make sure it’s safe."

White added that the health of students and staff is their highest priority. 

Jensen's request for transfer was approved and she moved to a different school where she no longer experienced symptoms. Starting August of 2015 she went on leave and had until March to notify the school system about whether she planned to return. She told ABC2 she does not trust the school system and its leadership.

"We did transfer her at her request, we wanted to make sure she is healthy and was comfortable in the school where she works. We want all our teachers to feel comfortable and safe in the schools where they work because we want them to do their best for our students. That school as I said, we’ve invested a lot of time and money and energy in making sure its healthy," White said. 

In Jensen's letter she states that she was told by a HCPSS employee that if she were to file a worker's compensation claim it would not accepted. White said she was encouraged twice to submit a claim. Jensen told ABC2 that she filed a claim Wednesday afternoon.

Click here for complete coverage of our reporting on mold in Howard County Public Schools.