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June 19, 2018

3 months later, O.C. school closed by asbestos scare to reopen

Students displaced from a Huntington Beach grade school will begin returning to campus on Tuesday, more than three months after three schools were closed because of an asbestos scare.

Many of the students who attended the three campuses have been bused to schools elsewhere in Orange County at a cost of $50,000 a week while school officials struggled to deal with the asbestos concerns.

In all, the closures displaced more than 1,600 students.

On Tuesday, students in grades 3 through 5 will return to Oak View Elementary and be reunited with classmates in portable buildings.

Two other campuses, Lake View and Hope View elementary, remained closed.

Since Oak View was closed in October, more than 600 Oak View students, including kindergartners, have been attending classes at Village View Elementary, Oak View Preschool, Pleasant View School – all in the Ocean View district – and Walter Knott Elementary in Buena Park.

The district is working on a timeline for asbestos cleanup at Oak View. The potentially hazardous mineral fiber was discovered at some schools during an 11-campus modernization project that began in July.

When the schools were built decades ago, asbestos was used as fireproofing on metal beams above the ceilings. Over time, asbestos dust began to fall from the beams and settle on classroom ceiling tiles, district records show.

Rising costs caused the district board of trustees to vote last month to delay asbestos removal and modernization construction at Oak View.

According to district documents, air samples taken at Oak View in October did not contain asbestos levels above standards set in the federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, which regulates how much asbestos can be present in public buildings like schools.

At a recent board meeting, several parents of Oak View students said they were worried about their children falling behind academically while attending temporary schools.

The children lack access to computers at Knott Elementary and can’t practice for automated Common Core tests like their peers can, parents said.

Oak View serves a large number of English as a Second Language students and low-income families, many of whom receive free or reduced-price meals at school, according to California Department of Education data. The relocations have divided siblings and disrupted families, some of whom count on social and family services available at Oak View, teachers told the school board last month.

Special-education teacher Rhonda King said one of her second-graders was accustomed to attending Oak View with his sister, a third-grader. Now he is at Village View in Huntington Beach while his sister is bused to Buena Park.

“He tells me he misses his sister,” King said. “That’s not just one family, it’s a lot of families.”

Nicole.Shine@latimes.com

For more education news, follow @NicoleKShine on Twitter

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

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3 months later, O.C. school closed by asbestos scare to reopen

Asbestos remnants being removed from Aranui High School remants


Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains


Last updated 05:00 13/01/2015

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Contractors are removing asbestos “crumbs” found in the remains of Aranui High School buildings demolished about four years ago.

Three buildings demolished at the school in 2010 as part of scheduled upgrades were removed but “some crumbs of materials remained buried and undisturbed”, Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure Rob Campbell said.

Surface materials were removed and the area isolated and the ministry engaged an expert consultant to investigate how to remove buried fragments.

The removal would be done before school reopened this year, he said.

“We have been advised that the risk to students or staff is minimal, as the materials which contained asbestos was buried undisturbed under the soil.”

Strict processes for managing asbestos would be carried out during any development, Campbell said.

Aranui High and community campus establishment board chairwoman Haneta Pierce said plans initially involved moving the original Maori whare from the high school onto the new site.

“Because of the asbestos, we can’t do that,” she said.

Aranui High principal John Rohs said the whare had a lot of cultural significance for the community and had been on the grounds for more than 30 years.

It had “a lot of asbestos in it which took us by surprise”, he said.

Original plans were to gift it to the new campus and Rohs was “deeply disappointed” it was no longer feasible.


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Asbestos remnants being removed from Aranui High School remants

Asbestos-plagued Ocean View accused of 'witch hunt'

Asbestos-plagued Ocean View accused of ‘witch hunt’

The Ocean View School District board of trustees declined to disclose what went on during a closed meeting held Monday to discuss the disciplining or firing of a high-level employee — a procedure that some are calling a “witch hunt” over the district’s asbestos crisis.

More than 100 people gathered before the meeting, most speculating that Assistant Supt. Roni Ellis was the subject of the discussion for her role in the crisis. The district temporarily closed three campuses after asbestos was discovered during a modernization project and is busing the students elsewhere. Ellis oversees administrative services, including the troubled renovation, which began during the summer at 11 schools.

The district is reeling under a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall caused by the cost of construction and asbestos removal.

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  • Elementary Schools
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  • Huntington Beach, CA, United States

  • On Monday, teachers, school officials and other community members told trustees that they were appalled by what they called a rush to remove Ellis rather than grapple with the district’s financial problems and closed schools. Several said the district is plagued by low morale and high turnover in administration.

    “The witch hunt has got to stop,” said Patty Schraff, a fifth-grade teacher at Oak View Elementary School, one of the closed campuses.

    Board President Gina Clayton-Tarvin and Supt. Gustavo Balderas said after the meeting that they could not comment because it is a personnel matter.

    Ellis said she hadn’t received written notice from the board regarding possible disciplinary action or dismissal.

    California’s open-meetings law, the Brown Act, requires public agencies to give an employee 24-hour written notice before a disciplinary meeting is held behind closed doors. Without notice, any disciplinary or other action taken in the closed meeting would be invalid.

    “I don’t know what their motivation is,” Ellis, who is out of town, said in a phone interview before Monday’s meeting.

    Ellis was appointed to her position in July, the month the modernization project began. An 18-year district employee, Ellis previously directed middle school programs and was a school principal for 15 years.

    Before her appointment, the job of assistant superintendent had been vacant for about a year, Ellis said. During that time, trustees approved contracts for renovating 11 schools with new lighting, ceilings, flooring and, in some cases, air conditioning.

    Under her three-year contract, Ellis can be fired only for “cause,” she said.

    “I’ve been extremely committed to the district.” Ellis said.

    Ray Silver, a former city manager of Huntington Beach, questioned why the board hadn’t hired a professional project manager to handle the modernization.

    “If Roni made a mistake, it was agreeing that she didn’t know what she didn’t know,” Silver said. He urged trustees not to make Ellis a scapegoat.

    Asbestos was detected in some classrooms after the project began. The cleanup process closed Oak View, Lake View and Hope View elementary schools and left many parents furious as they watched their children — more than 1,600 in all — being temporarily bused to classes at eight schools in four districts.

    On Dec. 9, officials from the Orange County Department of Education warned trustees that the cost of removing asbestos, coupled with the modernization project, had created a $7.8 million shortfall.

    Two days later, trustees voted to delay asbestos removal and construction at Oak View, where work had not yet begun. They also agreed to finish asbestos removal and architectural design at Lake View but to delay modernization work there.

    Cleanup and construction at Hope View are well underway.

    The board asked district administrators to return with a revised work plan for trustees to review. Balderas said he hoped to present a plan the first week of January.

    When Hope View, Oak View and Lake View were built decades ago, asbestos was used as fireproofing on metal beams above the ceilings. Over time, asbestos dust began to fall from the beams and settle on classroom ceiling tiles, district records show.

    Asbestos that hasn’t been disturbed isn’t harmful to people, but it can become a hazard when the dust becomes airborne. Inhaling high levels of asbestos over a long period can cause cancer and other lung disease, experts say.

    According to district documents, test results at Lake View showed airborne asbestos in two classrooms higher than levels set in the federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, which regulates how much asbestos can be present in public buildings like schools.

    At Hope View, a sample taken in one classroom contained a single asbestos fiber.

    No air samples taken at Oak View were above the legal threshold, according to district documents.

    Tests at eight other schools showed no significant level of asbestos in the air, the district said.

    Staff writer Hannah Fry contributed to this report.

    Taken from:

    Asbestos-plagued Ocean View accused of 'witch hunt'

    Asbestos scare puts tiny O.C. school district on financial brink

    A small Orange County school district that was forced for close campuses and bus students elsewhere in the wake of an asbestos scare is now reeling under a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall.

    “You went from being a stable district to a district that’s facing insolvency,” Wendy Benkert, assistant superintendent for business services at the Orange County Department of Education, told trustees for Ocean View School District.

    Benkert said the district has run through $2.9 million of $4.3 million in general fund emergency reserves and faces an additional $9.2 million in costs related to asbestos removal and a modernization project at 11 schools.

    Should the Huntington Beach school district fail to close its $7.8-million shortfall, it might need emergency funding or could be taken over by the state, Benkert warned.

    “But I believe with prudent decisions you can turn this around,” she said.

    Asbestos was detected in some classrooms during the modernization project that began in July. The cleanup has closed three schools and left many parents furious as they have watched their children — more than 1,600 in all — be temporarily bused to classes at eight schools in four districts.

    As the crisis has unfolded, district officials have remained in close contact with the Orange County Department of Education, which has oversight responsibility.

    Benkert proposed several options for school board members, such as scaling down or delaying some construction work or selling an unused school site. Such a sale, however, probably wouldn’t happen quickly enough to shore up the district’s deficit, she said. Also, legal requirements would force the district to offer any open space on an unused site to the city first for a below-market rate.

    Nicole Knight Shine writes for Times Community News.

    Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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    Asbestos scare puts tiny O.C. school district on financial brink

    Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) Went to the Front Lines in 2014, with More than 40,000 People United in …

    LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

    The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the largest independent non-profit organization in the U.S. which combines education, advocacy, and community to help ensure justice for asbestos victims; today announced the highlights of its 2014 Year-In-Review.

    With more than 40,000 people in its network, ADAO took its voice to the front lines to influence global policy, advocate for an asbestos ban, and promote research. The organization further strengthened its network of victims, physicians, researchers, public health practitioners, and labor union members and increased its credibility as a leader in the field with presentations at more than 12 conferences around the world.

    “Every 2014 accomplishment is possible because of the generosity of volunteers, individual donors and, sponsors, who fuel our work and further our cause,” stated ADAO President Linda Reinstein. “We especially thank those who helped make our 10th Annual Conference in 2014 such a huge success and we are looking forward to setting new records of support for all of our programs next year, and in particular, our 2015 conference. The need has never been greater as we work together to influence a global ban, and join our minds and hearts to create a future where asbestos no longer claims lives.”

    Top 5 Highlights:

    2014 Education Initiatives: In an effort to educate the public about the dangers of asbestos exposure, ADAO:

    2014 Advocacy Initiatives: In order to advocate for an international ban on asbestos use and the mining and exportation of this known carcinogen, ADAO:

    • Supported U.S. Senate’s passage of the Tenth Annual Resolution which designated April 1-7, 2014 as “National Asbestos Awareness Week”

    2014 Community Initiatives: In an effort to provide a community of support for those affected by asbestos, ADAO:

    Despite its known dangers, there is still no global ban on asbestos, and it continues to claim lives. Exposure to asbestos, a human carcinogen, can cause mesothelioma, lung, gastrointestinal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers; as well as non-malignant lung and pleural disorders. The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 workers around the world will die every year of an asbestos-related disease, equaling 300 deaths per day.

    About the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

    The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO is the largest non-profit in the U.S. dedicated to providing asbestos victims and concerned citizens with a united voice through our education, advocacy, and community initiatives. ADAO seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, advocate for an asbestos ban, and protect asbestos victims’ civil rights. For more information, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.

    Contact:

    Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

    Kim Cecchini

    Media Relations

    (202) 391-5205


    Kim@asbestosdiseaseawareness.org

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    Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) Went to the Front Lines in 2014, with More than 40,000 People United in …

    Asbestos fine for school governors

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    Asbestos fine for school governors

    Asbestos risk: Pupils to study at neighbouring school

    Bayfield School, Herne Bay. Photo / Jason Dorday.
    Bayfield School, Herne Bay. Photo / Jason Dorday.

    Pupils from an asbestos-contaminated Auckland primary school will be taught at a neighbouring school until the all-clear is given.

    Bayfield School in Herne Bay will merge with Ponsonby Primary School for a week while a classroom block with asbestos in its cladding is completely removed from the decile 10 school.

    Bayfield Board of Trustees’ chairman David McPherson said the roll of about 350 Bayfield pupils won’t have to squeeze into Ponsonby Primary classrooms.

    “We’re not merging classes. Ponsonby has available spaces for our kids – its hall and a number of rooms. There has been talk about combining sports events – that’s part of what would be happening normally.”

    The Ministry of Education said schools had freedom to determine arrangements for themselves. A media representative said she was unaware of restrictions about the number of pupils or teachers allowed in a single room.

    All of Bayfield will remain closed until a concrete slab can be removed from an old building. “It makes sense to complete the entirety of the demolition,” Mr McPherson said.

    His own son will go from Bayfield to Ponsonby Primary this week. “He’s excited about the chance of a new experience, spending a week at a different school,” Mr McPherson said. “Children are resilient and they’ll enjoy it.”

    The parent who raised the alarm over asbestos said the coming week would not be without anxiety.

    Brett Archer said he organised testing when he noticed asbestos dust coming from cladding on a six-classroom block being demolished at Bayfield School. He said his children wanted to know whether the other kids would be at Ponsonby and where their class would be.

    “There’s anxiety – but kids will be kids, they’ll cope well. It’ll be quite a novelty.”

    Mr Archer first raised concerns on May 2 in response to an email about the demolition, but said it took until May 7 for independently verified asbestos test results, which he organised, to come back. Mr Archer also inspected the paperwork of the demolition workers himself.

    “Everyone was shellshocked, they hadn’t quite realised 1) what the hell was going on and 2) the disjoint between what was happening on site and the paperwork.”

    Ministry of Education Head of Education Infrastructure Service, Kim Shannon, told media on Thursday that testing that day found no sign of any asbestos contamination outside the immediate work site area, although further testing would be done.

    Mr Archer, who deals with asbestos contamination on a daily basis, said his children’s health and safety was his key concern.

    “The MOE has jumped in ferociously. I’m taking comfort that Worksafe and the Board and Ministry of Health are involved. But it took six days for me to get to the point of getting the school closed.

    “It’s an absolute disaster any way you look at it; the impact on learning. It’s huge,” Mr Archer said.

    Mr McPherson, a lawyer at Bell Gully, continued meeting with Bayfield’s principal and the board this afternoon.

    APNZ

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    Asbestos risk: Pupils to study at neighbouring school

    Asbestos testing continues at Auckland school

    Asbestos testing continues at Auckland school

    Published: 10:28AM Friday May 09, 2014 Source: Fairfax

    An Auckland primary school shut after asbestos dust was found will undergo further testing.

    Herne Bay’s Bayfield School was closed yesterday for health and safety reasons after discovery of the dust in a construction site.

    Initial testing found no asbestos contamination outside of the work site, the Ministry of Education said.

    “We are reassured by these results. We will be commissioning more tests to make absolutely sure there are no traces of asbestos outside the demolition site in areas children or staff have access to,” head of education infrastructure service Kim Shannon said.

    A secondary investigation into how the demolition site was managed is also underway.

    “Industry best-practice guidelines for safe asbestos removal were built into the tender for the demolition work, which specified the use of a certified asbestos remover,” Shannon said.

    “We understand the frustrations around this situation.

    “Worksafe New Zealand have developed a plan to remove remaining demolition materials from the school and we will be implementing that plan tomorrow.”

    A holiday programme provider is running a class for affected schoolchildren today. A nearby school is also sharing classrooms and a hall with Bayfield School.

    The school will not reopen until the site is given the all clear but classes are expected to resume early next week, Shannon said.

    The Ministry of Health says asbestos dust is a risk to people when inhaled. Fibres can become stuck and leads to “breathing difficulties or even lung cancer”.

    Bayfield is a decile 10 school with about 380 year 1 to year 6 students.

    It is currently having 70% of its buildings rebuilt after the premises were affected by weather-tightness issues.

    Principal Sheryl Fletcher has previously told Fairfax Media Bayfield’s 12-year-old buildings were leaky and cold with damp patches on the walls and ceilings on rainy days.

      Copyright © 2014, Television New Zealand Limited. Breaking and Daily News, Sport & Weather | TV ONE, TV2 | Ondemand

      Continue reading – 

      Asbestos testing continues at Auckland school

      Asbestos fears shut down school

      Bayfield School, Herne Bay. Photo / Jason Dorday.
      Bayfield School, Herne Bay. Photo / Jason Dorday.

      It’s hoped asbestos-contaminated demolition material that kept an Auckland primary school closed today will be cleared by Monday.

      Bayfield Primary School’s 380 students stayed home today because of an asbestos risk from demolition work at the school’s biggest classroom block.

      A multi-million dollar building project has been underway at the Herne Bay school, and their main classroom block, a leaky building, had been demolished over the school holidays.

      Board of Trustees chairman David McPherson told parents and caregivers on Wednesday night that testing at the site had shown the possibility of asbestos and the school would be closed temporarily.

      Head of education infrastructure service for the Ministry of Education Kim Shannon said testing today had shown no sign of asbestos outside the work site.

      She said the Ministry was reassured by the results, however more tests will be carried out before the school is reopened.

      Mr McPherson said the majority of the demolition work was carried out during the school holidays, and they had expected it to be finished before school resumed.

      “Before the school reopened on Monday we sought a number of assurances from the project team that the site was safe and that they had complied with their removal obligations, we got those assurances and no reason to disbelieve them.”

      Mr McPherson said he had been taking calls from concerned parents today.

      “The questions that our parents have been asking us are the questions we are asking of the contractors and the Ministry,” he said.

      “We’ve got to work through a whole lot of processes to get the right information to be able to get that to our parents.”

      Work Safe NZ has given contractors the green light to remove the demolished material from the school, and Mr McPherson expected that to be completed tomorrow.

      The school will be swabbed and air quality tests will be carried out to ensure no trace of asbestos is found before it is reopened.

      He said he hoped students would be able to return to school on Monday, however plans were in motion for a alternative classrooms for the students if the school must remain closed longer.

      “We’re not prepared to reopen the school until we’re totally satisfied,” he said.

      The Ministry of Education will be investigating the management of the work site.

      APNZ

      Continued here:  

      Asbestos fears shut down school

      Education in brief: cuts mooted; 'resistance' quashed

      Asbestos removal - Nov 2006

      A steering group of union reps, local authorities, governors and asbestos experts has been meeting with DfE officials regularly about the management of asbestos in schools. Photograph: Olivier Pirard /Rex Features

      Asbestos saving?

      Ministers have considered scaling back the Department for Education’s work addressing the issue of asbestos in schools because of budget cuts, Education Guardian has learned. A DfE document passed to ministers for comment in February, which also featured in these pages last week, says the department could “stop policy work and reduce stakeholder engagement on asbestos”. More than 100 teachers are reported to have died from mesothelioma, a cancer usually caused by asbestos, since 2000.

      A steering group of union reps, local authorities, governors and asbestos experts has been meeting DfE officials regularly about effective management of the substance in schools. The civil servant-drafted document warns: “This is an emotive policy area and closing down the current stakeholder group would be controversial … Furthermore, any isolated incident of a school closing due to asbestos will mean we need to be able to respond.

      “We are hence proposing to put this on a care and maintenance basis [rather than having permanent officials working on it]. We will need effective stakeholder management in closing down the steering group.”

      Ministerial comments on the document suggest the recommendation was provisionally accepted but that the cut would be postponed until after backbench MPs had grilled David Laws, schools minister, on the subject in March this year. The ministerial comment about the proposed cut says: “David Laws [schools minister] says only after the select committee hearing. [The secretary of state Michael Gove] agrees.”

      The document suggests the work of two civil servants would be saved if the cut were made.

      A DfE spokesperson says: “No work on asbestos in schools has been stopped. We will be launching a thorough review into asbestos policy shortly and the steering group continues to play an active role in informing policy.”

      Academy ‘resistance’

      Families affected by a move to force sponsored academy status on their primary school are puzzled as to why the plan seems to be forging ahead when the school is improving fast. Snaresbrook primary, in South Woodford, east London, failed an Ofsted inspection in June but its latest unofficial Sats results, released after the inspection, are among the best in the borough, say parents. The school has changed its management team since going into special measures and this month received an Ofsted monitoring inspection that appears entirely positive.

      However, the academies minister, Lord Nash, has written to local MP Iain Duncan Smith to say that, while he acknowledged the improvement at the school, “our clear expectation … is that conversion to an academy with a strong sponsor is the best route to assure long-term improvement”.

      Anyone reading our leaked DfE document above, which also mentions “ministerial expectations on numbers of academies” may wonder if national academy targets, rather than school-by-school considerations, are the dominant factor here.

      Snaresbrook parents are about to hand in a 2,000-signature petition against the plan at 10 Downing Street and are planning to lobby the DfE on Friday.

      Another DfE document to come our way offers further evidence of the zeal to create academies. The presentation, given two weeks ago by DfE civil servant Colin Diamond, sets out the goals of the DfE’s academies division to the end of the year. The first four pages of the document set out how many schools have become academies or are “in the pipeline” to do so: 61% of English secondary schools and a perhaps less impressive-sounding 13% of primaries.

      Then, under Academies Group Priorities – September-December 2013, the stated goals include “increase the number of primary academies”, “further incentivise primary [academy] conversion” and, presumably in a reference to council areas with few academies, “focus on 18 local authorities where most can be gained”.

      The document goes on to talk about the need to “identify schools whose performance brings them in scope for a sponsored solution”, the use of a “whole local authority solution [towards academy conversions] where required” and “more interim executive boards [replacing an existing governing body] where we face resistance and persistent underperformance”. So, Snaresbrook parents can protest if they wish, but the DfE seems to have ways to overcome all “resistance”…

      Warwick Mansell

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      Education in brief: cuts mooted; 'resistance' quashed