Beth Fertig is the contributing editor for education, covering the New York City public school system for WNYC on air and online at SchoolBook.org. She has covered education in the city for more than 15 years. Beth is the author of Why cant u teach me 2 read? Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test (FSG Books) which grew out of a radio series on the low graduation rate for special education students. Follow her @bethfertig.
City Shutters Bronx School After Elevated Levels of Chemical Found
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
City education officials closed a Bronx school after final test results showed unsafe levels of a toxic chemical existed in the building.
The Department of Education said it received definitive test results on unsafe levels of the toxic chemical trichloroethylene, or TCE, in mid-July — refusing a report in the New York Daily News that the city knew of the contamination in January.
The school remained open while officials conducted those tests.
The DOE closed the school last week and sent a letter to parents saying the New York City School Construction Authority will "find an appropriate learning environment for our students as soon as possible."
The school is located on a former industrial site.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said officials discovered the chemical as part of a standard review of the school's lease.
"I think we have 31 more leases to review," Walcott said, "and we've indicated that we will have that completed within another two months. So we are going to finalize all of our lease reviews, and that is part of our normal procedure."
The DOE said the range of TCE levels measured in tests at the Bronx New School do not present an immediate health risk to students and staff.
Breathing the chemical in small doses can cause headaches, but in very large doses it can cause nerve and kidney damage. In large doses, TCE can cause kidney and nerve damage.