The ordinance also authorizes the creation of a school safety advisory board to recommend testing standards and best practices.
PHILADELPHIA, May 19, 2022 – Today, City Council voted unanimously in favor of amended Bill No. 210685-AA, initially introduced last fall by Councilmember Derek Green (At-Large), to update the City’s standards for issuance of special certificates of inspection for educational buildings, specifically focusing on asbestos. Following the discovery of several environmental hazards and other troubling conditions reported at several schools like Julia R. Masterman, SLA Beeber, and Frankford High School as the 2021-2022 academic year began, calls have grown louder for immediate and permanent action toward sustainable and safe solutions.
Most immediately, this bill addresses those calls by requiring that the City Department of Public Health provide third party inspection of one-third of schools over each of the next three years. For the longer term, the bill creates the Facility Safety and Improvement Advisory Group, composed of representatives of the District, teachers, principals, maintenance staff, and others, under the Managing Director to review and make recommendations regarding identifying and remediating all property-related hazards.
“As the parent of a child in the Philadelphia School District, as well as the son of a retired Philadelphia public school teacher, I can’t begin to describe my feelings regarding this issue and how crucial it is that we demand more transparency and better outcomes from school district leadership. Since our children returned to the classroom last fall, after 18 months of online instruction and virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the realization of just how in the dark we were, about what is really going on inside our school facilities – where our kids, teachers and faculty spend much of their time – was evident and stark. My mother taught at Olney High School for 31 years and dealt with the presence of asbestos during her tenure, as my son also is having to do today as a student at Hill-Freedman World Academy.
“Thanks to the support of my Council colleagues, as well as the Kenney Administration, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) and other stakeholders and advocacy organizations, it is my sincere hope that this legislation will help to hold the School District of Philadelphia to an even greater level of accountability in providing a safe learning and working environment for our children, educators, and faculty members,” said Councilmember Green.