2012-12-07 / Front Page

Parents: No Confidence In DOE

By Howard Schwach


School facilities leader John Shea addresses the crowd’s concerns as Chancellor Dennis Walcott looks on. School facilities leader John Shea addresses the crowd’s concerns as Chancellor Dennis Walcott looks on. More than 150 PS 114 parents gave Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott a vote of “no confidence” on Monday night in a loud and often contentious meeting that centered around the safety of the just-opened building.

The question was mold, with Walcott and his panel of experts contending that they had detected no mold, while parents argued that there had not been sufficient testing to make that statement.

“The school is not yet perfect, but it is perfectly safe for students,” said John Shea, the DOE’s chief for school facilities. “It was badly damaged but we pumped the water out, cleaned it and disinfected it and it is safe for children.” “We have inspected the entire building and have found no mold,” Shea added. “How can there not be mold,” asked parent Louise Esturo. “We all have mold in our homes, the homes we are trying to rebuild. If there is mold there, then there must be mold here.”


School Chancellor Dennis Walcott speaks as his reconstruction team sits in the front row. School Chancellor Dennis Walcott speaks as his reconstruction team sits in the front row. “The school is not built like your home,” Walcott said. “You have wood lathe behind your sheetrock while ours is metal. It does not provide a food source for mold.”

A number of parents demanded, however that the DOE break open the walls and check for mold.

When Shea told them that it was not cost effective to break up the walls when they knew that there was no mold behind the concrete, parents yelled, “Don’t talk about money, these are our children.”

While the school is still running on an emergency generator and an external boiler, Walcott promised that the electricity would be on pri- or to Christmas.

Parent association officials said that they wanted to pay for their own investigation, and Walcott told them he could not stop them from doing that, but that it was not needed.

Walcott’s answers did not satisfy parents.

“Nobody has confidence in you,” one parent said. “You have to rip out the walls and test the water. Let’s really make sure that the school is safe.”

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