Mystery odor at Jordan Middle School determined

Administrators at David Starr Jordan Middle School will move back into the school's front office in upcoming weeks after crews cracked the case of a mysterious lingering odor that didn't let up for nearly a year after the school's roof was installed.

In August 2013, Jordan Middle School was one of a handful of schools where new roofs were built using Measure S dollars.

But several months after the roof was completed, it was the only one to emit an odor so strong it forced administrators and staff members out of the school's main office and into classrooms where they worked for the majority of last school year.

The smell led one teacher last October to relocate her students to another classroom after feeling numbness in her lips and tongue and a burning sensation in her throat and lungs.

When school officials tested the air quality, however, results on 93 chemicals came back negative or within permissible levels outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

As time went on, the odor continued until recently when district officials hired a forensics roof company to evaluate the problem.

"We were kind of [at our] wit's end at that point, honestly," said David Jaynes, assistant superintendent of administrative services for Glendale Unified.

When crews removed a piece of insulation that hadn't dried properly because of a lack of air flow between the ceiling and roof, "the smell was instantly there," Jaynes said.

The insulation has since been replaced, and officials have spent the last two weeks venting the main office, he added.

With students returning next Monday, Aug. 18, officials wanted to wait one or two weeks to move administrators back into the main office, so students and staff can settle into the new school year.

"We're thrilled," said Stacy Cashman, principal at Jordan Middle School. "We're eager to have office space again."

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