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DC parents demanding answers of why kids are attending class near demolition site

Parents at Maury Elementary in Kingman Park believe their children are walking into dangerous class rooms because of an active demolition site. Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. (ABC7 photo)

Parents at Maury Elementary in Kingman Park believe their children are walking into dangerous class rooms because of an active demolition site.

At the temporary home of Maury Elementary in Northeast Washington, you will find the most vulnerable to hazardous environmental conditions.

Young children, some in Pre-K. Parents are asking why would DC Public Schools put students in trailers next to all of this.

"We love being here at Maury but being just feet away from an active demolition site... it’s a daily kind of well what is going to happen today,” says Kenyon Weaver who has kids attending Maury.

Parents want the District to test air quality on a more frequent basis while students are at school after hazardous materials including asbestos and lead paint were discovered at the demolition site. They are also asking the Deputy Mayor of Education's staff to revise the water filtration and testing protocol to include monthly testing of drinking water on an active demolition site.

"Information hasn't been transparent and it hasn't come quickly enough to assure parents that we are doing what's right,” adds Joe Weedon who is the Ward 6 Representative with the DC State Board of Education.

The kids have been here next to Eliot-Hines Middle School since January.

Early this year, parents tell the I-Team water from two sinks tested high for lead levels after the PTA paid for testing on four sinks the District refused to test.

ABC 7 found that one mother is so concerned about the water quality at the school that she sends her kids to class with water bottles that use a filter just in case her children fill up a second time during the day.

“When they found high lead levels last year in an early childhood education trailer they didn't post it until after I requested it and it was not within the time limit that they are mandated to do,” says Hannah Donart who also has children attending Maury,” says Hannah Donart who also has children attending Maury.

The DC Public Schools declined to talk on camera but emailed the following statement:

The safety and security of our students is our number one priority. DCPS is excited to have an active school modernization program, and we will continue to work closely with our school leaders, educators, families, and agency partners to ensure great teaching and learning continues in safe, welcoming learning environments as we transform our school buildings.

The D.C. Department of General Services also emailed answers to questions from ABC 7:

Here are responses to Questions from Scott Taylor from the Department of General Services, Friday, August 31, 2018

The following responses are attributed to the Department of General Services:

Did the District say at any time that construction at Eliot-Hine was to be finished before the school year started?

DGS has remained committed to ensuring that the demolition stage of this modernization project cause minimal disruption and the timetable for completion has remained on track in order to deliver the completed project by the fall of 2020, as promised.

Why did the District house elementary students right next to a construction site?

Together, DCPS and DGS share an active modernization and construction program, to provide our students with the conducive learning environment they deserve. The decision to locate Maury Elementary on the campus of Eliot-Hine, was made in the interest of the safety of the students, the space requirements for programming, and the ability to continue both projects as planned.

Have hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead paint been removed from the Eliot-Hine construction site?

Any hazardous materials found on the site were abated according to District and federal regulations before the demolition of the building started. The abatement was fully complete before Maury students and staff arrived on campus.

Is the District doing daily air monitoring at both the construction site and the trailers and lunch area of the temporary Maury classrooms?

Air quality testing was performed before the start of school and any issues were immediately abated and retested to ensure a safe environment for students arriving on campus. As the project continues, air quality testing will be on-going.

Why won’t the District allow parents to observe water quality testing in its school buildings?

Water quality testing is conducted under a strict protocol from independent specialists for sampling to ensure samples are not altered or otherwise contaminated.

Did the District do lead level testing at Maury Elementary School's multipurpose (gym/cafeteria) bathroom sinks and one drinking fountain? Did the Maury's PTA pay for lead testing at those locations and found two of the four sinks (one in each bathroom) to have levels above DC's actionable level of 5 parts per billion?

Maury Elementary School was tested and results were provided to the community on the agency’s website on August 16. All traditional and non-traditional drinking water sources were tested and concluded that no levels above actionable level were detected, the fountain in the cafeteria being one of them. Another round of testing will be performed again after the demolition phase. DGS has not been advised of testing ordered and paid for by a Maury PTA member.

Did DCPS and DGS test the sink in the teacher’s lounge at Maury?

The sinks and B-26 cooler in the teachers’ lounge are considered drinking water sources and were tested accordingly. These results are also found on the DGS website.

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