ASBESTOS AND OTHER DANGERS IN THE WATERTOWN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

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                                              January 10, 2019

601 Signatures as of 4/28/2019 including 258 Original Sponsors                            

ASBESTOS AND OTHER DANGERS IN THE WATERTOWN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

To: Watertown School Committee and Town Council

We, the undersigned parents, children, teachers, other staff members, and community members – both past and present - share health and safety concerns regarding the Watertown Public Schools. We endorse this petition to express our dissatisfaction with actions taken by Watertown officials related to those concerns.   Witnesses and supporting evidence appear to indicate federal and state laws have been broken and children, families, employees and others have been endangered.

This petition was inspired by the efforts of now retired teacher Mary Russo who has suffered physically and professionally as a result of her service to the town and her extraordinary effort to spur the state Division of Labor Standards to take punitive actions in issuing citations and fines related to failures to properly protect Watertown.  Other Watertown public employees have risked their careers to support her efforts.

PETITION SUMMARY                                                PHOTOS

Officials of the Watertown Public Schools have failed to act in accordance with state and federal laws regarding asbestos and other contamination in the schools.

We demand that the emergency nature of this matter – which involves both physical danger and a failure of official integrity - be recognized and addressed immediately. We believe this will require shutting down buildings until problems are confirmed and solutions formulated. It will require immediate action against officials who have failed our community.

  I.            AHERA compliance in general

AHERA stands for the “Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act”.  This federal law and the associated legal regulations require public school districts to act to protect our communities. State and federal laws require regular inspections and three-year plans to protect the community.   Based on statements in 2017 by former Acting Superintendent John Brackett, it appears that Watertown has been out of compliance for years.  READ MORE

 

 

II.          AHERA at Watertown High School

 As required by the US environmental Protection Agency’s AHERA regulations, Enviro-Safe Engineering of Brockton, MA and its principal inspector Patricia E. Riley (MA licensed inspector AI60295) completed a survey and reassessment of asbestos containing materials at Watertown High School.  The inspection report identified materials throughout the school.   Some teachers and parents believe that the report was incomplete and a one-day inspection (December 28, 2015) without input from the affected community was grossly inadequate.  However, there were specific findings that raise major issues.   And the failure to provide notice regarding the report and its findings raises many legal questions regarding the failures of Watertown High School to perform its legal responsibilities as a Local Education Agency (LEA) under federal law.  READ MORE

 

This compels parents, students, and teachers to ask:

·         Why did Watertown High School violate the law by keeping these findings of hazardous conditions a secret?  

·         Were people put at risk in order to salvage the Accreditation process? 

·         When did Watertown High School stop complying with Federal AHERA requirements?

 

III.        AHERA at the Watertown Middle School

Years of legally required asbestos inspection reports are nowhere to be found. Employees have been provided the most extensive assurances of safety by WPS officials in words – but the legally required evidence supporting those assurances is missing.  Given the history at WHS and WMS, how can anyone feel confident about safety?  READ MORE

 

 

IV.        Mold, air quality, bacterial exposure, and other contaminants

Watertown has extraordinarily old facilities.   In some cases, like WHS, core systems have not been comprehensively modernized in almost a century.  Watertown teachers, students, and families have been raising concerns about unhealthy conditions at our public schools for decades.  Common sense reactions to visible dust, mold, mildew, water damage, heat and circulation system failures and the like have never received adequate responses.  For years, serious symptoms such as chronic asthma attacks, nasal congestion, skin rashes, eye irritation, nose bleeds, fainting, wheezing and headaches have plagued the system.   Given, years of missing records and the problems of outside inspection firms who have violated laws or performed “limited” inspections.  It is time for a comprehensive set of inspections and reviews by outside authorities that get to the bottom of our issues. READ MORE

V.          WHS Principal Lundberg

Watertown High School Principal Shirley Lundberg is a central figure in matters raised in this petition.   In the course of investigating this matter, a relevant collateral concern arose concerning Ms. Lundberg’s original application to become Principal at Watertown High School.  We request a review regarding the representations that were made to Watertown at that time and Ms. Lundberg’s past employment history.

VI.        Other issues

In the process of investigating these issues, other concerns were raised.  The decline of Special Education services and the historic lack of diversity in our school staffing despite a student population that is now very diverse.  Integrity issues in MCAS testing.  Peculiar personnel hires that show evidence of cronyism related to outside systems with weak histories in communities with political values different than the broader Watertown community.

  

 A CALL FOR ACTION

 Watertown has had a proud tradition of leadership that has been jeopardized.   We’ve been fortunate that the Watertown schools have experienced great vision from school principals and teachers who are empowered to act upon a vision that adhered strictly to the law and sought to protect its people.  There are extensive records going back to 1983 regarding the identification of asbestos hazards in the Watertown Public Schools.  For decades, our officials worked to adhere to the laws in an effort to protect our community. 

 

Questions:

This all compels parents, students, teachers, other staff and community members to ask:

·         Why did Watertown High School violate the law by keeping these findings of hazardous conditions a secret?  

·         Were people put at risk in order to salvage the WHS Accreditation process? 

·         When did Watertown Public Schools stop complying with Federal AHERA requirements?

 

We need answers to these questions along with the following actions.

Actions:

We urge to Watertown School Committee and Town Council to immediately act to:

1.   Shut down buildings in question until a comprehensive assessment of danger is completed and a plan to address problems is formulated.

2.   Ensure that employees believed to be responsible for failures to comply with laws be suspended pending full investigations.

Respectfully submitted by the undersigned:

 Link to Petition Signatures 

258 Original Sponsors

Mary Russo                Steve Aylward         Barbara Venezia
Pedro Benites             Dolores Mitchell     Jamie Venezia
Melinda W. Shay         Paul Hogan             Paul Davis
Julie Smith                  Rose Caloiero         Crystal Hodgkins (MRC)
George Souliotis         Krista Stewart        Brigid Flynn (MRC)
Victoria Matiouscian  Jaclyn Stafford        Greg Ames (MRC)
Serg Masters              Kristy Galloway        Jesus Acevedo (MRC)
Guido Guidotti, MD     Anna Yoo, MD         Jeffrey Pugilese, Jr.
Susan Sommers        Jim Swift                  Jeannette Whooley
Joan Piantedosi         Lola Dement Myers  Leanna Dement Myers
Kimmie Tran              Lauren Fox               Kelly Surabian
Manny Makerakos     V alerie Fox               Tony Leone
Tyler Herrero             Suzanne Russo         Deb Leone
Steven Casella          Michelle Lyman         Gary Leone
Ann Casella               Liam Connelly           Rosemary Sheehan
Ryan Kelly                 Sean Forde                Svetlana Sheehan
Daniel Smallidge       Liam Forde                Levi Harris
Colin Walters             Kathleen Forde         Camille Sheehan
Henry Ryan Patrick   Olesieghle                 Margaret Sheehan
Kendall Casella         Sara Mooreman        Anthony Lacerra
Paula Foley               Sarkis Ouefalian       J Gonzalez
Avery Nasworthy       Peter Koloostian      Andrea Lacerra -Gonzalez
Brian Nasworthy       Eric Brown                Ellen Russo
Yevette Nasworth     Lynn Dryfess             Joy Dimico
Myranda Nasworthy Catherine Sunhoit     Chris Paone
Joe Casella               Erika Wright              Kerry Daley
Anna Minas              Anderson Phobin      Timothy Daley
Dan McCarthy          T. Tamathisis             Failth Daley
Anthony Sallese        Illina Jeremey           Linda Riley
Carole Roche            John Dicker              James Brown
Donna Manjourides   Williams Jery            Ellen McCusker Brown
Helen Manjourides     Sean Blaisdell          R. Dilbarian
Sarah Wilson             John Barry                K.Corcoran
John Cerci                 Christina White         C. Andrew
Lorraine Cristello       Maurizio Fusco         Olga Villagran
Julianne Lindsay       Kathleen Harris         E. McFadyen
Kendra Moore           Richard Bloom          T. Guertin
Alexis Khalik             Stratos Tauvltsida      Dorothy Boyd
Christine Arveil         John Savvidis             Krista Sumski
Joseph B. Ferreira    Mike Aloise                Samantha Linder
Luke Ferreira            Steve Anzaldai          Chrissie Michaelidra
S. Sebastian             Maureen McDermott  Patricia Santos
Dan Tashjian             M. Aloise                   T. Becman
Allen D. Pierre           M. Micijan                  Fran Mike
Roman P. Davis         R. Levy                     Santos Castillo
Demetri Dorceus        Emilia Coelho           Paul Barry
Natalya Safro             Bev Bellegarde         Melodie Figira
David Quilter              Donna Gabowitz       Elina Onarraioui
Marie Danziger          Esther Gately            Richard Cybolski
Fargal Pirzada           Lee Dolan                  Dan Rej
Mariah Jammal          Leah Hennelly           Armand Kouloumjan
Alyssa Davis              Michael Oellar           Lauren Nickell
Zachary Ovrian          Kim Mafrchuabil        Mario Marchio
Karen Magni              Elizabeth DeBrown   Cajen Renee Hartman
Allan Marchant          Kathy R.Locharay      Keith Smith
Pete Daley                 Maureen VanStry      Alycia Lane
Wally Macdonald       Christine Powers       Colin Greenhill
Carol Blackwood       Kathryn Plocharyk     Bernadette MacDonald
Joe Stone                  Robert Whittemore    Donovan Foote
Brandon Mackinnon  Susan Hanrahan        Dylan Perez
Sean Fleming           Joan Butler                 D. Frenette
Brian Paul                Christna White            Holly Crary
Paula Collins            Paul Costa                  Marina Marchio
Matt Pettiglio            Katfa Crayo                 Nicholas Trani
Kevin McElroy         Carolyn Brady              Diana Barlow
Eric Anastasi           Yvonne Whittenge        Philip Clossey
Nancy Moscato       Abbie Cleveland           Jim Cristello
Linda Schwalm       Joanne Rudenauer       John T. Marchant
Linda Lyman           Sindy Tejada                 Jim Zarkadis
Frances Hegger      Ihsan Ali                      Lillian Duest
Americo Tulipanro   Rich Pellagrini              Paul Duest
Aida Sarkissian       Jacqueline DelaRusso  Leighanne Duest
Amy Queander        Amanda Wallace          John Gately
Kathleen Dagostino Arevig Setian               Esther Gately
Bob Hill                    Will Jenkins                  Karen Higgins
Diane Berkeley        Todd Sumner              Juliette Zakar
Joseph Berkeley      Sarnik Knhrian            Emmanuel
Brendon Berkeley    Azael Critchian           Michael McKinnon
Glen Sickorez          Seta Sullivan               Kelsey McKinnon
Aleksanyna Karapez Ehsan Hsaeid            Brandon McKinnon
Doug Maguire           Fatmeh Zarwney        Tihmarah Roderide
Donna Sivits             Maryam Ami               Khalid Saeed
Bryan Canales          Amir Bashardanet      Daniel Formon
Susan Welch             Alfred Russo              Sabague
Jeanne Marie Caruso  Katiria Santiago       Don Semons
Dianne Santiago         Jenny Santiago         Maria T. Santiago