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Published: Friday, 5/16/2003

2 teachers sue TPS, union

Two teachers who claim mold and dust in school buildings caused them to become sick filed a lawsuit yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against Toledo Public Schools and the Toledo Federation of Teachers.

The complaint was filed by Mary Moawad of Toledo and Deborah Cash of Maumee. Ms. Moawad said she experienced red itchy eyes, sore throat, cough, and other respiratory problems while teaching at Byrnedale Junior High School in 2000-2001.

According to the suit, she was transferred to Waite High School the next year, where she continued to have respiratory problems and was ill. She said she did not return to Waite on the advice of her physician.

She said she was approved to receive state Workers' Compensation in April.

She claims mold was visible on the floor and ceiling of the classrooms where she taught, and school officials did not respond to her complaints about the conditions.

Ms. Cash, a special-education teacher at Whittier Elementary School, said the classroom to which she was assigned in 1999 had visible mold, was inadequately maintained, and that she developed allergies and respiratory problems.

She said her health improved while she was on sick leave last year. However, Ms. Cash said when she returned to teaching later in the year, she became ill again.

She said she has been on sick leave since November, 2002.

The women said the Board of Education was alerted to health concerns at the schools but did not address the possible problems.

They said they filed grievances with the union in 2001. Ms. Moawad said the school district denied her grievance. Ms. Cash said a union building representative dropped a grievance involving her school without the teachers' consent.

The women are asking for attorney fees and compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

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