UPDATE: Former principal calls meeting with parents about conditions at Terrace Manor

Former Principal Hartley Gibbons showed pictures of Terrace Manor Elementary at an impromptu meeting Wednesday. (WRDW-TV)

Former Principal Hartley Gibbons showed pictures like this one of Terrace Manor Elementary at an impromptu meeting Wednesday. (WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The former principal of Terrace Manor Elementary called an impromptu parent meeting and news conference at the downtown Augusta library Wednesday morning.

Hartley Gibbons waited on parents to arrive, but no one showed up, so he started without them.

"It's sad to be in Augusta, Ga., it's sad to have people here that don't care about kids, it's sad to have people lie about what's going on there," he said.

The school is under investigation after Gibbons claimed asbestos and mold issues were being covered up.

"All we want is for the school to be fixed, everything done to our satisfaction, so that our children are safe, the teachers and workers are safe, that's all we want," said Nell Grubbs, the grandmother of a sick student at Terrace Manor.

Parents showed up just after Gibbons left, telling News 12 they came because their children have been having health issues for a few years now -- and they want answers.

"He usually leaves school complaining of a headache or a stomachache or both and he usually goes to sleep in the car before he gets home," said PTA President Lois Hodges.

Gibbons showed pictures, saying the roof at Terrace Manor has been leaking for 30 years -- dating back to 1978. He claims it was all just painted over.

News 12 spoke with Senior Director of Facilities Services Benton Starks, who says the paint was necessary to see if any of the leaks in the roof were active of if they were just stains from old leaks.

After Gibbons gave his speech, though, he didn't want to stick around for any questions. He deferred questions to Starks.

Starks says they removed some asbestos this past summer, but the school meets all federal guidelines, and asbestos would not have caused these sorts of health issues for students.

"I stand on my ground with this, and I will stand here until they prove otherwise. They have not proved to me that Terrace Manor is safe. Terrace Manor is not safe, and I know that for a fact," Gibbons said.

School officials say they are working with GHSU to conduct studies at the school, testing everything from air quality to bus exhaust to find out why kids are getting sick.

The head of maintenance says they've ruled out mold as a problem. They say custodial staff had not been diluting a chemical used as a disinfectant, but that problem has since been corrected.

Initial report:

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The former principal of Terrace Manor Elementary has called a meeting for parents.

The meeting starts at noon at the main library in downtown Augusta.

Hartley Gibbons said he would be addressing the continued sickness at the school and what he's calling a cover-up. Gibbons also says he'll be sharing photos showing conditions at the school.

Gibbons announced his retirement last month amid controversy. He was previously put on administrative leave after storming out of a Board of Education meeting, claiming his school was not getting the attention it needed. Gibbons made claims of unsafe conditions at the school, saying mold and asbestos were inside.

News 12 will keep you updated as more information comes into the newsroom.


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