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New Orleans Officials Pass the Buck on Student Asbestos Exposure at Lafayette Academy Charter School

July 27, 2018

Lafayette Academy Charter School is housed in an old building in New Orleans, and like many old buildings in New Orleans, Lafayette School (as it was once called pre-charter) has an asbestos problem.

However, the presence of asbestos is not the only problem; the greater issue is that Lafayette Academy Charter School parents were assured by both the charter operator, Choice Foundation, and the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) (which, it seems, was misinformed by the Recovery School District, or RSD, which was in charge of the school facility at the time) that the asbestos cleanup was not conducted while children were present at school.

As it turns out, the “no kids present” narrative was false information, with the Choice Foundation laying blame on the “least expensive” contractor.

This responsibility-shuffling is one of the byproducts of New Orleans school choice. In this case, the bottom line is that the state took over the school and it is the state that should have made sure the contractors– contractors that it hired– were actually doing their jobs. Apparently as of a parent meeting held Thursday, July 19, 2018, RSD was still trying to promote the lie of no children being present. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) report indicates that “children were walking in halls between the two contaminated areas.”

Another byproduct of school choice in New Orleans is that parents must deal with the shock of ensuing disruption (including, in this case, health-threatening asbestos exposure) brought about shifting sands of OPSB-RSD-charter-operator “accountability.” As it stands, Lafayette Academy Charter School students will be housed in two other school buildings as the 2018-19 school year begins.

Splitting the school between two campuses is one issue; testing the children for health issues is yet another. “School officials” are supposed to conduct “a separate meeting next week (the week of July 30, 2018) to address health concerns.”

Meanwhile, I have submitted to the state a public records request concerning asbestos testing in other New Orleans schools under the charge of the state post-Katrina.

Stay tuned.

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

One Comment
  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    In addition to asbestos, might it be useful to have a check on the water supplies to the school..lead in particular, but other likely contaminants. This is a really chilling report. I believe that the national society of civil engineers ( or like group) also has a report on the status of schools.

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