December 17, 2019
PHILADELPHIA–“The School District of Philadelphia made the correct decision in closing FLC due to the discovery of an imminent asbestos hazard in the heating shafts. I recently toured the school to see firsthand the environmental concerns reported by our members. Following my visit, I spoke with Dr. Hite to urge immediate action.
“The situation at FLC is emblematic of the emergency conditions in far too many of our school buildings. Today’s discovery reflects both the progress we have made and the deeply flawed system in which we are operating. For the first time in recent memory, the District quickly reported to us the discovery of an immediate environmental hazard and committed to collaborate with us on a plan for swift remediation. However, it is problematic that our recommendation to conduct this assessment was made months ago, and only just took place.
“Further, the sheer volume of reported concerns from FLC on our app is extremely troubling. Over the past seven months, there have been over fifty submissions from FLC staff members to our Healthy Schools Tracker App, and only one reported as resolved by the District. Reported problems include asbestos concerns, mold and mildew, crumbling walls and damaged lead paint, and thermal control deficiencies. These issues are serious and require thorough and immediate remediation.
“Let me be clear: the District’s response today was the right one. It stands in stark contrast to the response at TM Peirce School, and it is hopefully indicative of lessons learned. However, for too long, our students and faculty at FLC have been exposed to potentially life-threatening conditions. Further, the asbestos remediation efforts that will soon be underway will address only a fraction of the concerns we have with the learning and working conditions within the building.
“Due to decades of systemic disinvestment in our schools, educators and students are mandated to work and learn in environments that can quite literally poison them. We are, once again, calling for the immediate investment of $100 Million for district-wide lead and asbestos remediation. Our union has led the fight for safe, healthy schools, and today is another devastating reminder of why we are fighting so hard.”
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