Asbestos High School (Again)

Last week we presented news on two Fullerton, California, high schools where asbestos fibers have posed a health hazard for students and faculty. A complaint filed with the Indiana Department of Labor now alleges that workers were exposed to asbestos while working on the renovation of Central High School in Muncie earlier this year. Marlin Casey, school district superintendent, tried to reassure the public: “There was never any allegation that students were exposed to anything.” According to the complaint, the contractor–who was not named in public sources–failed to provide results of air sampling for asbestos, nor were they allowed to observe the air monitoring being done. Most damning, however are allegations that air sample results provided by school representatives were deliberately falsified. The complaint alleges that sampling results presented were dated 16 and 17 April, but no samples had been collected on those days. Until an investigation determines the truth, the district and the contractor are taking no chances. Renovations have been stopped in at least one science room. Principal Richard Daniel said, “It’s a safety issue…[workers] are saying there is one area where more [asbestos] abatement needs to happen before they continue working.”

Earlier this summer, just after the end of the academic year in June, the Indiana Department of Labor requested documentation from Dan Justice, who heads up Muncie Community Schools’ custodial and maintenance services. These documents were to have included results of any air monitoring for asbestos as well as training records in asbestos abatement. Bill Reiter, director of facilities and operations for Muncie Community Schools, was quick to point out that the state DOL has not accused the district of any wrongdoing, assuring the public that they “…were very satisfied with us in terms of our records and information.” Reactions of those affected were skeptical. One pointed out that “the people abating the material did not speak much English.” Another said, “Put blame where it’s due; cost cutting measures that open the door for untrained or under trained employees that are hired by unqualified contractors and poor construction management,” adding, “…but hey, anything to save a buck–my kids don’t go there.”