Chesapeake mom angry about lingering damage to school


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A mom is angry about what she calls unsafe conditions at her children’s elementary school.

Pictures show extensive damage inside the Butts Road Primary School in Chesapeake.

Plastic covers the library. Trash cans are on the floor to catch water falling from the ceiling.

“I was shocked. I didn’t understand how they were in school in those conditions,” Sarah Barr told 10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings.

Barr has a kindergartner and a second grader at the school. It’s the same school she attended as a child.

She’s a military wife and mother of three, but active in the school, often volunteering in the classrooms.

Barr could hardly believe what she saw two weeks ago when she went to pick her children up from an after-school program.

“As I’m walking through I see all the damage. The library was completely gutted. There were bags, there was blowers on all the hallways. Majority of the ceiling tiles were gone,” she said.

“On the hallway where the faculty lounge is they had an outdoor trash can, blowers and cones with wires hanging down in my face. I had about a foot and a half to walk through,” Barr explained.

A call and letter to parents from the principal on January 12 explained that the situation was addressed.

However, Barr said things haven’t been fixed.  Tuesday’s storms caused more leaking according to her daughter.

“She said ‘mom you know it was raining in the library today,'” Barr said of the conversation.

A WAVY camera caught crews working on the roof of the building Wednesday.

The damage and repairs are only part of Barr’s concern. Her daughter’s health is being impacted.

Tuesday’s emergency room visit gave unexpected news for the child already dealing with allergies.

“They found traces of viruses and there was multiples of them and the doctor said he’d never seen that before,” Barr said. She is now being treated for asthma. She is on an inhaler four times a day and we have to go see a pulmonary specialist and an allergy specialist within 2 to 4 days.”

Her little girl will stay home from school for now, but mom fears the worst for other students and staff if things aren’t fixed fast.

“It needs to be done. Nobody should be in there. I know it stinks, I’m sure it’s going to be hard. Where do these kids go? I have no idea, but in my opinion it’s better to get them out and fix it before anything else can happen,” she said.

This is the statement from the Chesapeake School Division Public Information Officer, Dr. Angie P. Smith:

Hello there,

Due to the past snowstorms, the amount of snowfall  remaining on the roof resulted in leaks throughout the building.   Since the storms occurred appropriate school staff and contractors have been continuously working on and cleaning the facility.  As always safety is our highest priority.


This was the response provided when 10 On Your Side asked some specific follow up questions:

Hello there,

As I already shared, the amount of snowfall  remaining on the roof resulted in leaks throughout the building.  Those leaks happened when the snow began to thaw.  Chesapeake Public Schools ran on a code red during the inclement weather.  During a code red essential personnel report, which means each building is assessed so any concerns can be addressed.  The leaks were detected and school personnel were dispatched immediately.  The division was able to address the concerns with temporary repairs and are now working with contractors to repair the roof.  There was no structural damage to the building.  However, some ceiling tiles are being replaced and individual items that may have come into contact with water were addressed.  The principal informed parents through a letter and a parent alert phone call.

Safety is always a daily priority.  In this case, impacted students were relocated to another section of the building so contractors could continue to correct the roof repairs.  The media center was closed for repairs as this area had numerous leaks.

We respectfully decline an interview.



10 On YOur Side received this follow-up response from school spokesperson Angie Smith Monday morning:

School maintenance and custodial staff have been continuously monitoring conditions within the building. Custodial staff and restoration contractors have repeatedly taken action to extract water and dry building materials in a timely manner to prevent the potential for mold growth. At this time, no visible mold growth has been identified. Following completion of cleanup and repairs, we plan to conduct sampling to confirm and document normal conditions within affected areas. School Plants staff have been continually checking the building and we have not seen any leaks resulting from the weekend rain.

Safety continues to be our top priority, and we will take immediate action if there are any concerns that impact our students or staff.

Thank you,


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