Mysterious smell forces preschool to evacuate on consecutive days

Posted at: 02/12/2013 10:06 PM
Updated at: 02/12/2013 10:19 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A mysterious smell at a local Head Start preschool led to the evacuation of students Monday morning and then again Tuesday morning.

But parents weren’t told about the evacuations until Tuesday afternoon.

“We should have known, right? As parents, at least I should know, because I need to be aware of what's going on with my kids," said Magaly Tompkins.

Tompkins and other parents are fuming because they weren’t clued into a mysterious odor looming at their kids’ school.

The smell has taken them out of their classrooms at La Mariposa Head Start Academy on Mountain Road. This is a federally funded program providing free early education to qualified low income residents.

"It's kind of horrible to find out that there's a gas smell and all that and my kids are over here you know, at school I didn't even hear about this until you guys called and let me know," said Jerlyn Yazzie.

Debra Baca, the vice president of the Early Childhood Division of Youth Development Inc. says staff came in on Monday, smelled gas and followed protocol.

Staff evacuated the students.

The gas company arrived and after a check gave the all-clear to return inside.

But then staff smelled the odor again Tuesday morning.

Students were again evacuated.

"I think the parents should have been notified. I don't know if they were a little scared,” said Michael Tompkins. “So the parents should have been notified just in case and especially if it happened twice."

YDI, which runs Head Start programs in Albuquerque, says they didn’t tell parents about the evacuation on Monday because “a gas leak wasn’t detected,” said Baca. “We didn’t have a lot of information for parents.”

Not all parents are criticizing the school

"I'm pretty happy with them. They're real cautious about everything," said Nicole Garcia.

Yazzie hopes the issue is resolved by Thursday.

"I love my girls and I hope they fix everything here in the school and make sure it's suitable for the children because there's so many children coming here," she said.

The school is checking the entire building from the boiler to the stove and sewer, which some believe may be the cause of the smell.

Baca adds carbon monoxide detectors are on and working inside and haven’t sounded an alert.

Baca says they’ll take advantage a day off of school Wednesday that was already planned to inspect the building.

If crews don’t find anything wrong, school will be open on Thursday.