LARGO (FOX 13) - Plato Academy , a charter school in Largo, is defending itself against parents who say their children were exposed to mold.
However, they admitted for the first time that there had been mold in the building at one time, but they say it was cleaned and that numerous tests showed it was eliminated.
In a cafeteria packed full of parents, school officials acknowledged that mold had been found in a mobile classroom in July. It was caused by a broken air conditioner.
But board officials insisted it was cleaned and the room tested, five times by different companies and the Department of Health, and found safe.
"Hiding something is just not part of the equation," said Elias Kolettis, a Plato board member.
Some parents took the side of the administration. "I suggest we unite, support each other with love, and help build each other up," said parent James Sciandra.
But about half argued administrators sent mixed messages, wrongly claiming there was never any mold.
"Right now, we are looking for new schools," one parent said. "I say that with an incredibly heavy heart."
Administrators insisted Monday that pictures parents sent around last week, that appear to show mold, were taken before it was cleaned.
But now parents are sending new pictures that show spots on a classroom door, that Fox 13 also observed, that they say is mold.
"I am one of those parents who he says is starting malicious rumors," said one parent. "I promise you I am not. I have seen it myself."
After the tense meeting, administrators admitted they're in the middle of a thorny problem.
"If there is mold at unhealthy levels, we are going to fix it," said Kolettis. "We are going to keep working on it."
Parents demanded the board hire a mold tester who they recommend, which the board agreed to.
"There is a trust issue at the moment," said Kolettis. "It is going to be rectified."