Angry Parents Confront Chancellor Over Toxins at Schools

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Parents gave Chancellor Walcott an earful after learning a local school put their children in harm's way. (Published Thursday, Oct 13, 2011)

    Angry parents didn't hold back against Chancellor Dennis Walcott at a schools meeting in the Bronx Wednesday night, saying they still haven't gotten enough answers about potentially toxic exposure to their children in school.

    Parents wanted to know how toxic materials got into the schools to begin with, and if the new schools their children have been moved to in the interim could be contaminated, too.

    They said the Department of Education knew there were unsafe levels of a toxin called tricchloroethylene (TCE) in the schools.

    "This should never have happened to our children," said parent Kelly King Lewis. "This should never happen to anyone's child."

    P.S. 51 was shut down in August
    , but the DOE tested and discovered the toxins in January. To make matters worse, parents say the new school the kids were moved to have tested positive for elevated leeks of a different toxin: PCE, tetrachloroethylene.

    "Our children are at risk, and all Chancellor Walcott can say is I'm sorry," said Marisol Carrero. "I already did everything I could."

    The chancellor said Wednesday night the new location tested positive because of an open can of paint in the basement that was removed and the air is now safe.

    As for why the DOE dropped the ball at the old location, Chancellor Walcott told parents, "I apologized to the parents, we learned our lesson. That will not happen again. I am accountable. I'm the chancellor, I take full responsibility."

    The DOE is also creating a health registry to monitor the children exposed at P.S. 51. All other school buildings have been tested and are safe.

    The chancellor said he will call the school principal Thursday morning to set up a meeting with parents and address their concerns.