Last week, an Horry County Schools teacher filed a lawsuit against the Horry County School District and four HCS schools, saying the district failed to properly fix a mold issue that resulted in her illness.
This is the second such lawsuit against the district in the past month - the first being filed by an HCS parent who alleged the mold at SJES made their child sick.
Mary Burroughs worked at St. James Elementary, Seaside Elementary, Lakewood Elementary, and Socastee Elementary during 2016-2019, said the lawsuit, which was filed with Attorney William Luse of Myrtle Beach.
During that time, the lawsuit said that she suffered from headaches, short term memory loss, lethargy, watery eyes, dizziness, congestion and suffered from nerve issues in her hands – things she did not suffer from prior to working for the district.
Allergy and medical tests Burroughs had, the lawsuit claims, showed exposure to mold.
Since late 2018 and early 2019, St. James Elementary School parents have been very vocal about their concerns about mold in the school, including having a number of students who tested positive for mold-borne toxins.
In late summer 2019, HCS officials reported they were putting a new roof on SJES to remedy the issues.
Burroughs’ lawsuit said she reported issues with her SJES modular classrooms in terms of mildew odors and mold problems to both the school’s maintenance personnel and the principal.
The district had knowledge of water damage, water leaks and mold issues for years within a number of HCS schools including SJES, the lawsuit states, and goes on to say that the district “refused or neglected to make necessary repairs and remove toxic mold from numerous school buildings” including SJES.
Mold issues were not properly remediated by the companies hired by the district, the lawsuit said, as after the company came in 2018, she returned to a classroom covered in dust and mold.
Burroughs alleges she was told by the principal to “just wipe off the mold and dust with Clorox and a towel and to continue to hold her class.”
Due to this, the lawsuit said she herself and other students fell ill, and repeated attempts to report continued issues were made, but to no avail.
According to the lawsuit, the district and schools were aware of the problems and failed to fix them, and were negligent in having her continue to teach in a contaminated room. The toxic mold levels and moisture were so severe at her school, the lawsuit alleges, her modular classroom was put out of use.
Burroughs' lawsuit goes on to say that the district and schools intentionally and maliciously covered up the mold to hide it from her, staff, employees, prospective students and their parents.
The lawsuit said the district owed a duty of care to the teachers, staff, and students that their buildings would be habitable and not harm the health and wellbeing of an ordinary person.
Burroughs is seeking unspecified damages.
HCS spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said the district does not comment on pending litigation.