FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2020
PHILADELPHIA–The previously agreed upon side by side testing done collaboratively between the Federation and the District is now scheduled and is underway this evening.
PFT President Jerry Jordan issued the following statement:
“While I am pleased that the District has agreed to undertake the joint testing, as is proper protocol following remediation work, I am extremely frustrated with the process that has unfolded at Carnell Elementary. One of the issues that we are seeing time and again is that there is no uniformity by which identification, remediation, and evaluation protocols are implemented. The procedures being followed at McClure Elementary, currently facing an asbestos related closure, are enormously different than those undertaken at Carnell. The process at McClure has been one informed by best practices, and we are comfortable with the level of testing that has taken place and will take place.
“It is disgraceful that the District put Carnell educators in the position this morning of being forced to make a rushed decision as to whether they felt safe enough to enter their school building, without our being able to assure them that testing was complete. I spoke with the Carnell faculty this morning and was profoundly moved by their dedication and commitment to their profession and to our children, but I was equally angered that the District put them in this situation to begin with.
“I will not allow the District to continue with their fluctuating processes and protocols by which they address environmental hazards. While I am enormously grateful for the members at Carnell and schools throughout the District, I cannot allow their dedication to be taken advantage of. As such, I’ve instructed our attorneys to immediately pursue legal options to bolster what we already know: that every child and every educator deserves to work and learn in a healthy environment.”
PFT Health & Welfare Fund environmental scientist Jerry Roseman disputed District claims that he and his team were unwilling to engage in joint testing and urged further action and collaboration:
“The School District of Philadelphia’s assertion that the Federation was unwilling or unable to engage in joint testing at Carnell is patently false. It is discouraging that the professionalism that we have shown and will continue to show comes into question when our goal is simple: to secure safe and healthy school buildings free of environmental toxins. School remediation projects are often fluid but must be completed utilizing a best practice approach. The situation at McClure is one that is scientifically sound. Carnell should be no different. I look forward to completing the joint testing at Carnell as was previously agreed upon and ensuring that in all future projects, proper protocols are in place.
“Further, given the amount of asbestos materials still remaining in place at Carnell, the District should follow through on its promises and commitments to jointly develop medium and long-range action plans for the school.”
Carnell Educators issued the following statements:
Carnell Building Representative Amanda Penge said, “I appreciate all the efforts to make our school a safer place. I wish it would have been done side by side with the PFT. I want to make sure that all the proper testing is being done by both parties to ensure accurate testing.”
Carnell teacher Tina Asman agreed, noting, “I am encouraged that testing has been scheduled with the PFT. I know that my union has been fighting tirelessly for my safety, the safety of my students, and for students across the District. This morning was difficult, and I wish that the District had heeded our calls to engage in proper testing with the union. But, every step of the way, PFT has been there fighting for us and with us.”
Carnell teacher Levette Parish stated, “The fact that my health, the health of my colleagues, and the health of the students we serve may have been at risk because of the District’s inaction is really upsetting. It is so important that our staff continue to stick together and fight for what we all know our school community needs. I am glad that the joint testing will be underway, and I look forward to the PFTHW team verifying the results.”
Carnell teacher Rachel Campbell concluded, “I want to believe the District’s information is correct. But the fact that after the initial closure was deemed ‘out of an abundance of caution’ and actually yielded over 160 areas in need of remediation, I want to make sure that my union has the chance to verify testing results. Our union has stood by us, and I trust their process. I want to make sure the District upholds their agreement with the PFT.”
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