La Habra sub resigns over alleged mold issues in elementary school classroom

A substitute teacher at a La Habra elementary school recently quit her job, after she said the school's administration did nothing when she raised concerns about mold in a classroom.

Julie Coelho said ever since she started working at Olita Elementary School a few years ago, as a sub for children with disabilities, she started going to administrators, warning them of her concerns about mold problems in one of the trailers. But, she reached out to FOX 11 when she said she hit a wall. Last week, she quit her job because of her frustrations about what she said was their lack of response.

At issue, she said, are things like the soft spot on the bathroom floor, which shows signs of wood rot, or the ceiling tiles. 

"The tiles on the ceiling are shifted. We've been told that there might be asbestos, so we're supposed to tell them if it cracks," Coelho said.

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Coelho said she took photos of mushrooms growing out of openings in the structure next to the playground.

"I have brought so many things to their attention at this point, and I don't know how they can ignore it," she said.

Coelho then tested the dirt, with a home kit, that "started growing [mushrooms] almost instantly and gave me a reaction. I let them know, ‘Hey, something’s going on.' … My principal just says not all mold is dangerous."

According to Coelho, neither Olita Elementary nor the Lowell Joint School District opted to test the mold, and she can't afford to do it herself, but she said the facility's director found no problems, despite her complaints. That's why she resigned.

"I wanted so badly to reach out to these parents and tell them maybe this is why your kids are sick," Coelho said. "Maybe this is why they have rashes and runny noses that just don't stop."

FOX 11 has reached out to the district. They opted not to comment, but parents at the school forwarded an email they received from the principal Friday.

The email read:

"A former employee contacted news stations reporting that our school has mold. We have had the site tested by an outside company. The results came back negative. The only positive result was wood rot, but that should be no surprise to anyone."