Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Bangor School Administrators Need to Fess Up with DeFranco Parents
Yesterday, I told you about a serious problem at DeFranco Elementary School in Bangor. Between students and staff, there are about 600 people there every day. For a time, which could have been as little as a few days or as long as several months, the children and everyone else at that school were drinking untreated well water. Earlier this month, parents were advised to start bringing in bottled water for their children because of a problem with the water. A few days later, they were told things were back to normal. But they were never told what had caused the problem. They were also never told that their children may have been drinking untreated water anywhere from one or two days to two months. That's irresponsible, but it is even more irresponsible for school administrators to tell at least one grandparent who called them that my blog story is inaccurate.
This problem was first discussed in detail at a Bangor School Board workshop meeting on March 20, and when the minutes are finally made available in a few months, what happened will be abundantly clear. They will reveal that there was friction between maintenance and a custodial worker, and that a custodial worker at DeFranco took it upon himself to reinstall a pump for the water system that had already been correctly installed by maintenance. In the course of reinstalling this pump incorrectly, this custodian also disabled the chlorination system being used to treat the school's water.
After incorrectly doing a job for which he had no qualifications, this very same custodian ran and recorded water tests at the school every day. The problem was not picked up until Prosser Labs, which does independent testing monthly, noticed that there was a problem. It is unclear how long the water was considered unsafe. It could have been as little as one day. It could have been as long as two months.
Since that time, school directors have demanded an investigation into the possibility that the custodian's reckless actions may have endangered the health of the children. The custodian was allowed to retire at the Board's March 27 meeting.
In addition, the school district is now testing the water twice a day in all five buildings, and by two different people.
That's not enough.
School administrators owe parents an explanation about exactly what happened. They also should review their own records to determine whether there has been an unusually large number of illnesses at the school in recent months, and follow up with any student who reported a stomach virus or other sign of drinking contaminated water
Instead of being concerned with the health of their children, school administrators were more concerned about the confidentiality owed to a custodian who let everyone down. This "circle the wagons" mentality is wrong. But it's going on in other areas, where stories about the Bangor Area School District make it sound like the Harper Valley PTA.
Note: According to Schooldigger, Bangor Area School District ranks 345 of 585 school districts. The high school ranks 299 of 676 public high schools.