Parents want to know: is there mold growing behind the Sandy battered walls of P.S./M.S. 114?
Until tests provide a definitive no, Maggie Murphy isn't going back to her fifth-grade classroom.
"I was scared if I could get sick," she said.
"How could you possibly open up the school and put these children and teachers and so on in jeopardy?" said parent Don Murphy. "I don't understand that."
The school's auditorium and gym were submerged by flood water. The New York City Department of Education said the gym and auditorium stage are off limits for now, although the auditorium was used for a welcome back pep rally.
On Thursday, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said P.S. 114 was safe for students to attend.
"We have clean air samples for 114," he said. "We do not put students in a school that's not healthy, and so I have the report, the report is fine."
But on Friday, the DOE said the air was tested for humidity, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and other materials. It said nothing about mold. So now, the teachers' union is checking.
"Let's just do the right thing," said Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers. "Let the professionals check it, and then they can assure the parents that the school is a safe place for their kids."
It's not clear when the test results will be available. Parents said they want to be reassured their kids are safe at school so they can focus on rebuilding other parts of their lives.
"I feel helpless, because all I want is for her to be safe and have an education," Moore said.
I'm so sure the report on air quality at PS 114 that Walcott has in his hands is accurate and comprehensive.
I am also sure Walcott would never try and deceive parents about the air quality or safety in a NYC school.
Except for that school in the Bronx with the toxins left over from a lighting factory that were 10,000 times the state safety limit that Walcott said was safe but turned out not be.
Remember that story?
Parents at a North Bronx elementary school have just been treated to an unpleasant late-summer surprise. At an "emotional" meeting with the parents of Bronx New School students yesterday, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced that the school's air and soil were contaminated by the potentially carcinogenic chemical trichloroethylene (TCE), and that the Department of Education had known of the contamination since February.
According to the the Daily News, the Department of Education not only waited for months to drop the bombshell, but had never tested the building and its soil before, despite the fact that it had been a factory building for 70 years. The building's last inhabitant before the old Board of Education leased the building in 1992, Nessen Lamps Inc., generated hundreds of gallons of "spent halogenated solvents used in degreasing" (like TCE) in 1986 and 1987. And the DOE has been spending $28 per square foot in rent for this literal dump each year, on top of paying for the renovations necessary to turn the space into a school.
The school's 300 students will be sent this fall to St. Martin of Tours, a former Catholic School more than 2 miles away. Walcott said the health risks presented by the exposure to the site, where soil contamination was more than 10,000 times the limit determined by state regulations, were "minimal," and that a pediatrician was on-site to test children. However, parents of course came forward with reports of their children's complaints of headaches, dizziness and nausea. One parent, Leona Johnson, told NBC her daughter, now 24 years old, graduated from the school back in 1997 and continues to suffer health problems. The parent of a 7-year-old is being told to have the girl's heart checked out.
Reports NY1, "Parents said they did not think the chancellor admitting the city made a mistake and apologizing was enough." The rage of a horde of parents has probably never been more succinctly understated.
Dennis Walcott's word is worth nothing.
The events around the DOE's handling of PS 52 prove that statement.
Walcott says PS 114 is safe.
Parents should believe that as much as they believe Richard Nixon's "Your President Is Not A Crook!" speech.
We have evidence from the very recent past that the NYCDOE and Chancellor Walcott knew that a school was unsafe for children, indeed Walcott had the test results IN HIS HAND - and they did nothing about it for months.
I said at the time that if even one person at the school comes down with cancer or any other illness attributed to the toxins, Walcott, Bloomberg and the NYCDOE are responsible.
The same is true at PS 114 and other Rockaway schools that have been opened with the DOE's assurance that all is well.
Walcott does not care about the health of children or the safety of the people in the schools.
He cares about the appaearance of those things.
Mostly he cares about making his boss happy by making things seem like they're back to normal.
So what if black mold is growing in the auditorium and behind the first floor walls of the school?
This is about making sure the kids get back to school.
There is no time to make sure this school is safe for kids and staff!
There is only time to get the kids ready for their standardized tests!