Judge dismisses lawsuit alleging Horry County Schools ignored mold in classrooms

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A judge dismissed a lawsuit filed in December alleging Horry County Schools ignored mold in classrooms, according to court documents.

The lawsuit was dismissed April 22, according to the documents. Judge Benjamin H. Culbertson dismissed the lawsuit because Mary Burroughs’ “complaint contains one count of gross negligence. Nowhere in her complaint does she allege that the District deliberately intended to inflict injury, nor can she credibly make such an allegation.”

The judge said Burroughs’ complaint can be remedied under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

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 claimed. 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 claimed 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 claimed 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.” 

Read the full dismissal below:

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