Testimony of Eliezer Gottlieb to the BOE, January 30, 2020

My name is Eliezer Gottlieb, and I am a 4th grade teacher at Lewis Elkin ES, building rep for my school and a member of the caucus of WE. Last winter our staff went through a paint and plaster remediation to damaged lead paint, where entire wings of classrooms were sealed off and we had to relocate our classrooms for a week at time while the work was done. We were concerned, we asked questions, but we did our part to make the process as smooth as possible. We kept on teaching.

When they later accidentally painted our cafeteria with oil-based paint, we were upset, outraged and concerned, but we accommodated them as we kept students out of the cafeteria as they aired out the stifling fumes with fans. We came to school, we assured parents and students it was ok. We kept on teaching

Two weeks ago, when we were told not to enter our classrooms during the school day when workers with masks came to vacuum our vents and replace filters that showed dates from 1995, we were again wary, but we followed protocol and went right on teaching.

When we left school on Friday and were told that pipes to our boiler were leaking and that asbestos insulation was being removed, we were not ok. Especially after what happened at FLC, McClure and Pierce. We did not get answers about TEM laboratory tests that were satisfactory. Dr. Hite was the only school district representative to write me back on Sunday night. But, even Dr. Hite did not have time to answer my questions about those laboratory tests before school was opened Monday morning. When we stood outside with parents, we could no longer accept “It is,what it is.” At this point is was “Enough, is enough.”

When parents were dropping their children off and heard about what was going on, many had no clue what was going on and turned around and took their children home. The rollout of this abatement was hasty and poorly communicated and no chances should have been taken with our health and the health of our students. Our school should have been closed until those laboratory tests results had been verified and shared to ensure that our school was safe. All of us who stood together on Monday, have received our F-61’s, a day without pay. But I want you to know that we came to schooI early as many of us usually do. When we saw the low attendance and early dismissal we offered to teach our kids in the little school house which is a separate building. We stayed there outside in the cold demanding those tests be done until 3:09. I just wish you had prioritized the health and well-being of our students as much as we did.