Asbestos report frustrates parents

The Baltimore Sun

First, there were mites. Now asbestos in gym tiles. And some parents at Violetville Elementary School are frustrated.

Rene Rodriguez, who dropped off his son, a fourth-grader, at the school yesterday morning, said he first heard about the asbestos from his son, not the school.

"These people don't communicate anything," Rodriguez said. "My son called me and said, 'Dad, pick me up.' When I went over there, I noticed the kids were sitting 10 to 15 feet away from [the asbestos]."

His son attends the after-school program in the recreation center where the asbestos was discovered. School officials said the principal sent a letter home with students Tuesday to inform parents of the asbestos problem, which has forced the closure of the recreation center.

Classes have not been canceled. Asbestos fibers can cause respiratory problems, but they pose a high risk only when released into the air. Officials said the asbestos tiles were old and cracked, but not crushed to the point where fibers would be released.

But Rodriguez said he thinks the school should be closed as a precaution. "I haven't heard of any school that does asbestos removal when school is still in session," Rodriguez said. "I don't want my kid around that stuff."

Of the mites, he said, "The bugs, we found that out in the news."

Laurie Smith, mother of a first-grade boy and a sixth-grade boy, said the notices sent home with students seemed adequate, but she said of the situation, "It's unhealthy."

Another mom, Stephanie Davis, whose daughter attends pre- kindergarten at Violetville, said she was at work and was not notified when the school was dismissed because of the outbreaks of mites. A friend of hers picked up her daughter.

Still she said, "I feel like they handled it fine."

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