Cornelius, NC – A frustrated father turned to Eyewitness News after his doctor diagnosed his 8-year-old daughters chronic headaches as a result of daily exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning at J.V. Washam Elementary School in Cornelius.
Last week, J.V. Washam Elementary School was evacuated for a carbon monoxide leak in the cafeteria.
Channel 9 had uncovered a similar problem last year and parents are questioning whether it was ever fixed.
Tom Cichocki said his daughter has come home with headaches almost every day since December, but it wasnt until the May 9 evacuation that questions about why she was getting them started to have an answer.
We started putting the pieces together, like. ‘Hey this is the telltale sign of carbon monoxide exposure, said Cichocki.
Several doctor visits later, Cichokis family doctor agreed the cause may have been daily exposure to the dangerous gas.
A fire report Channel 9 obtained said initial meter readings of the gas when the school was evacuated on May 9 were above 100 parts per million, which is double the safety standard set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Earlier last year, a carbon monoxide detector went off in the same cafeteria.
In a memo, Cornelius Fire Deputy Chief Jim Robinette said the inspector in 2015 found a level of carbon monoxide that concerned him. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools was told to fix it. After the May 9 evacuation because of another leak, Robinette wrote, “Finding out what we found out, I don’t think it had ever gotten fixed.”
To expose 1,100 children to a poisonous gas that they dub a silent killer is mind-blowing, said Cichoki.
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools spokesperson said the leak was fixed then and the malfunctioning kitchen equipment leaking the gas two weeks ago has been replaced now.
Cichoki wants to know the district is taking every precaution to keep little ones from inhaling dangerous fumes.
We send our kids to school for eight or nine hours a day and we trust the school with our children and to have this kind of thing happen on their watch is just unacceptable, he said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools sent Channel 9 service invoices Friday afternoon after Eyewitness News submitted a request Monday for the schools kitchen equipment.
Records reflect maintenance checkups in the fall and spring, but there was no record of a checkup before the May 9 leak.
Channel 9 will continue to follow this story.