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Family suing AISD claiming building mold threatens daughter's life

A family is suing Austin ISD claiming mold has been making their child sick since last year. (CBS Austin)

A family is suing Austin ISD claiming mold has been making their child sick since last year.

At the start of September, Jennifer Matos and Darrell Holmes came to the law offices of Don Henslee for help obtaining a safe learning environment for their five-year-old daughter.

Attorney Terry Gorman, who’s been working with the family, said the now kindergartner had to be taken out of her Oak Springs Elementary class last fall because she was getting sick from mold in the building.

“Her father described (his daughter) as literally hunching over every evening because she’s so exhausted because the breathing is not what it should be,” said Gorman.

Gorman said during Pre-K, the then four-year-old would come home with breathing trouble. Doctors diagnosed the problem as asthma. When she returned to school healthier in the spring the struggle to breathe would continue.

“When she’s not attending that school she’s fine, when she’s attending that school this kicks in,” he said.

Matos eventually asked the district to test the school for mold.

“The report, as I would understand, are high levels of aspergillus and penicillium,” said Gorman.

As a temporary solution, Gorman said the girl was put in a temporary building.

“You can’t just have her be there all day. She still goes to the cafeteria; she still goes to the gym. It’s an old school,” he said.

The lawsuit filed Monday states the district is violating federal and state disability laws. It goes on to claim the girl’s parents fear their daughter’s life is at risk because of mold infested surroundings. The family is seeking $1 million in damages.

Gorman and his legal team plan to ask for a physical and mental evaluation of the situation to determine accommodation for the student.

AISD said Tuesday they haven’t yet been served with the lawsuit.

“This is a case of someone with a physical condition cause by or exasperated by high levels of mold,” said Gorman.

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