Parents Meet With Education Officials Over School Building Health Concerns

Parents at two Brooklyn schools say that construction, mixed with water damage, has made the environment unbearable

By Pei-Sze Cheng
|  Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012  |  Updated 8:31 AM EDT
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Parents at a Brooklyn school building demanded answers from education officials at an informational meeting Monday evening about construction conditions they say are creating health hazards for their children. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Parents at a Brooklyn school building demanded answers from education officials at an informational meeting Monday evening about construction conditions they say are creating health hazards for their children. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

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Parents at a Brooklyn school building demanded answers from education officials at a meeting Monday about construction conditions they say are creating health hazards for their children.

About 500 students, parents and teachers met with Department of Education officials inside the building that houses PS 17 and MS 577 in Williamsburg, which is undergoing a massive construction. Parents said that construction, mixed with water damage, has made the environment unbearable.

"In the classrooms and in my dance room, she has the tiles falling out," said student Shaliya Parris. "And you see the black stuff all the way going down. And they tell us not to open up the windows. They have air cleaners, purifiers in most of the classrooms."

Teachers can't open windows in the building because of major construction happening outside. The building is undergoing a $10 million renovation, with much of the money going to fix the current water filtration problems.

It's not clear how dangerous the mold is, if at all. The school ordered testing be done on the building, and of 21 random samples taken on March 22, one sample came back with an unacceptable result, according to the testing report.

Some parents remained dissatisfied after Monday's meeting, and threatened to keep their children at home.

"My child suffers from asthma, she's getting headaches and chest pain, and she's coughing a lot," said Shaliya Parris' mother, Aliya Parris. "So I'm not sending her back to school until I find out more information."

Added another parent, Kathy Serrano, "I'll be here tomorrow morning, but I'm not sending her. How do they know if it's safe or not?"

Parents said they were told by school officials at the meeting to return Tuesday morning, when they'll try to answer most of their questions, they said.

Media were not allowed into the meeting Monday evening.

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