A coolant leak this past Wednesday forced officials at the Wentworth School in Scarborough to cancel school through the rest of the week as industrial cleaners mopped it up.

A school administrator on Saturday said the leak resulted from a malfunction in the building’s solar heating system, which oozed antifreeze into a storage closet in the gym.

A physical education teacher found the leak on Wednesday morning and notified Principal Kelli Crosby, who said she immediately evacuated 820 students and staff from the elementary school. Students headed to Scarborough Middle School for lunch, and then spent the rest of the day at the high school.

School was canceled on Thursday and Friday as the local environmental waste management firm Clean Harbors helped to clean up the spill, purify the air in the building and conduct air quality testing.

“I am very proud of our entire team, and grateful for the support of our entire campus,” Crosby said in an email Saturday.

Crosby noted that a campus safety team has kept the school ready for incidents such as this one. “This ongoing partnership with school and district leaders and public safety, examining systems and planning for the unexpected, ensured we were completely prepared.”


Scarborough’s Wentworth School, which serves grades 3 to 5, was built in 2014 as a replacement for an aging 1960s-era building. A $39 million bond approved in 2011 financed the new Wentworth, which boasts solar and geothermal heating.

School officials are waiting for results from another air test, Crosby said, but based on preliminary results, they “fully expect” to return to school on Tuesday, after the Veterans Day holiday.

“We (have) communicated to families to stay tuned for an official decision on Monday afternoon,” Crosby said.


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