Testimony to the BOE Action Meeting, Dec. 8., 2021
By Laurie Mazer
I am Laurie Mazer, a member of Parents United, OCOS and parent of two students at Coppin ES. I have spoken to this Board numerous times and I dislike being a frequent flyer here but it was critical that I came back to refute a number of the items from last month presented by Dr. Hite and the hired consultant on asbestos/AHERA and the “update” on Donesafe. I am back because the critical messages and points I was trying to make were completely missed and it is a deeply disturbing feeling to watch someone back track on numerous public statements/promises made with no repercussions especially when it feels like those statements were made to get you to stop asking questions and were never true in the first place.
About asbestos/AHERA, contrary to the Board, the parents and advocates I know have spent a ton of time learning the AHERA process and know that the district is following only the minimal federal requirements. This is not something to be proud of; compliance is literally the bare minimum. But even that compliance is somewhat questionable. Data is accessible at the AHERA library and should be at schools if people can find it. And if you go to look at it is a burdensome paper documents that we were not allowed to take photos of. They did show how completely different inspector quality is and how impossible it is to track follow-up. And determining what is and is not an Imminent Hazard seems completely random with some schools being immediately addressed and others never being addressed.
And sure, maybe “No asbestos detected” isn’t a requirement by the federal govt and shouldn’t have been made a guardrail but you all did. To change now, without a new plan, is garbage and more of the same. All we have ever been asking for time and time and time and time again is more information shared, more planning and more work on the District level to make sure parents, students, teachers and staff know what the dangers are and when they will be fixed. This isn’t happening at all and everything in Dr. Hite’s presentation explained nothing, new, changed or fixed since the debacles of ™ pierce, Ben Franklin, and Meredith.
Which brings me to DoneSafe which was only ever brought up in the Spring by Dr. Hite in answer to parents myself included, requesting accessible, real time information on environmental health and safety issues. To get the “update” last meeting that DoneSafe will never be for parents and outside use and there is nothing coming for us, no date for a this data sharing improvement is gross. We waited patiently for what we were told is the answer to our demands only to hear that “oops i misspoke, we won’t be using Donesafe for that”. What is the new plan to get the information that we have been asking for now that Donesafe is revealed to be a big 6 month waiting game for nothing?
With regard to the budget Dr. Hite made a statement that people were acting like the District could spend more of the Federal $2B on facilities than they did and said how compliance with govt rules meant they couldn’t. I would just ask again and again and again so you all hear it that sure we want to know why you can’t spend more money on onetime ventilation upgrades for schools for air quality. But more importantly what we have really been asking is what are you spending it on? What schools? Where? 40% of the 5 year budget is for “other locations”. There is no long term plan and every month you change your response. I know all of this testimony will be refuted while I am muted which is another view into how little there is commitment to change and true engagement and dialogue.
Also the information we do have on the SDP website is so far out of date.
AHERA reports last updated 8/2020, reports are from 2018/2019
Facilities Condition Assessments page last updated in 2017
School-Based Building Improvements 2/2021
Capital Projects updated 11/2019