With “mold growing everywhere”, a faulty HVAC system and a lingering odor in a city high school, a worried teacher at Frankford High has sounded the alarm this week about potentially dangerous environmental conditions.
Because the problems represent an imminent danger to health, representatives of the teachers’ unions have the right to access Frankford to examine the school. But Jerry Roseman, the union’s longtime director of environmental science, was refused entry and escorted out of school on Friday.
âThis is shocking and poses the question: what is the neighborhood hiding? Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Teachers’ Federation, said in a statement. âThe district’s continued refusal to work together so that we can collectively defend the healthy schools that our students and staff deserve is not only disheartening, but also dangerous. “
Christina Clark, a spokesperson for the district, said the school system took swift action to investigate the issue once notified, and Roseman was denied admission because he was a contractor, not an employee of PFT, and was unknown to Frankford staff. Roseman, Jordan said, has been examining environmental conditions in the city’s schools for almost 40 years.
“Anyone who attempts to access our buildings and who is unknown to a school principal will not be permitted to access them,” Clark said in a statement. âFollowing visitor protocol is even more important as we face the challenges of the pandemic. “
The teacher who reported the mold growth on Wednesday said in a report to PFT: “there is mold everywhere”, “there is no HVAC system running” and “it smells all the time” . Comments were submitted through a PFT app that tracks environmental conditions in schools across the city.
Photos from inside the school show what appears to be a music room with residue resembling mold covering a piano, a row of instrument cases and metal music stands.
Roseman, in a letter to district officials, said he had “seen this kind of condition several times before and it is very likely that the mold growth is more extensive and far beyond what is illustrated in the application report. This situation requires an urgent, systemic and comprehensive response and assessment. He recommended that the district restrict access to the room where mold was detected and immediately install dehumidification.
Clark, the district spokesperson, said the room was closed to teachers and students, was inspected on Friday, and work to resolve the issue will begin on Monday and is expected to be completed by the end of next week. .
Jordan stood alongside several city council members on Friday after council member Derek Green introduced legislation that would create a school safety advisory group within the CEO’s office and prevent the licensing department and inspection to grant a special inspection certificate to any school building without a thorough inspection for environmental hazards.
Jordan said he was furious that the PFT was not allowed to collaborate in crafting a response to the problem, especially given the district’s track record.
Environmental conditions have long been a hot topic in the school system. More recently, teachers briefly refused to work inside Masterman due to questions about damaged asbestos, and Beeber’s Science Leadership Academy was briefly closed due to construction issues and a lack of toilets. operational in this school.
In the Masterman case, the district said it had repaired all the damage caused by asbestos, a dispute between the parents and the PFT challenge.
Roseman was allowed to make visits to Masterman, but was never allowed to do full inspections, according to him and the parent group. In a report, Roseman wrote that “there is still no way to be sufficiently certain that all areas of the school have been fully secured for the occupancy of students and staff without the provision of information. additional and additional response actions. Instead, I am of the opinion that generally accepted and recognized âbest practicesâ for asbestos decontamination and testing have not been followed adequately. “