Unsatisfactory conditions inside Sandy school: shut it down, says parents

Posted at 7:22 PM, Nov 30, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-30 19:24:08-05

(Belle Harbor, NY) Parents at PS 114 say the Department of Education jumped the gun and reopened the Belle Harbor school before it was properly inspected.  Now parents are planning to protest until the Department of Education shuts down the school to remedy the situation.

“School is such an important part of our kids lives. They were all desperate to return to get some sense of normalcy,” said PTA president Irene Dougherty.sludgeschool

PS 114 reopened last week, a week ahead of schedule. Parents said it surprised them since the school sat under five feet of water, but trusted the Department of Education.  Once inside, parents said they got a rude awakening. Doughtery noticed residue from Sandy flood waters in the auditorium and sludge still on chairs where students were sitting.

“The water is full of fecal matter, bacteria and microorganisms and those seats were still there,” said Doughtery.

Parents cried for help and days later Doughtery said the Department of Education brought in inspectors to test the school. Tests parents maintain should have been conducted before kids were allowed back in.

PIX 11 got our hands on the test results. The report shows the school lacked heat. Temperatures inside reached a low of 58 degrees. It recommended the auditorium and whole basement level that includes a music room and the teachers lunch room, be closed for deep cleaning. Moisture was detected in building materials and that an odor of moisture lurked in the air.

Parent Maud Smith said foreign smells forced teachers to yank students from the classroom “The third floor wreaked like sewage. Kids had to be pulled from classrooms,” said  Maud Smith.

The United Federation of Teachers conducted independent tests. Since then the auditorium and basement have been shut down. The union supports parents and released this statement to PIX 11: “we have serious concerns about PS 114 and that’s why we asked for the basement and auditorium be closed. The right thing to do is bring in the experts to inspect building up and down over the weekend.”

The DOE says the school is safe and modifications have been made to keep kids in class.

200 of the 800 enrolled are back at the Belle Harbor school. At an executive meeting on Friday night, parents will discuss the possibility of protesting and pulling their kids from the classroom Monday. They are asking for the DOE to shut down the school until it’s properly cleaned and inspected.