Charter School drinking fountains have high lead levels, unbeknownst to parents

frederickdouglassmastery
image courtesy Google Street View

Children in a Philadelphia charter school have been consuming water from drinking fountains with astronomically high levels of lead, possibly for years, and parents are only now becoming aware of the issue.

Frederick Douglass Mastery Charter School, which serves approximately 750 students in grades K-8, (of whom nearly 100% are black and fall below the poverty level) has had issues with its water for over 15 years, but nothing has been done aside from occasionally taking the affected fountains out of rotation for a while. Parents were finally notified of the issue recently, and they are understandably upset.

The most recent tests on drinking fountains at the school, conducted by the district in compliance with a new city ordinance, showed water concentration levels of lead that reached upwards of 3500 ppb (parts per billion); the accepted maximum is around 10 ppb, although most medical professionals will agree that there is no amount of lead that should be acceptable in drinking water. All this while teachers report that there have been, for an untold number of years, special coolers with water designated for the teachers, because on some level it was understood that the fountains did not deliver water that was acceptable to drink.

Consuming high levels of lead, especially in children, has been attributed to lower IQ scores, increased incidence of ADHD, and other developmental and behavioral problems. The FDA sets the standard for lead concentration of drinking water at 5 ppb, while the EPA remains more conservative at 15 ppb.

Frederick Douglass Mastery Charter School is among 18 schools in the Philadelphia area operated by Mastery Charter School. The building itself was built in 1938, and until 2010 was under control by the School District of Philadelphia. As early as 2000, however, drinking water tests at the school have shown lead levels higher than what is deemed acceptable, and have consistently been swept under the rug.

The district admits that the maintenance backlog is so extensive that fixing the problem just isn’t possible, citing other issues in crumbling Philadelphia schools such as HVAC malfunctions, asbestos, and chipping paint.

On Frederick Douglass’s home page a quote from a parent features prominently:

“I just love the communication between
the parents and the teachers and the school.”

-Yonita Martin, Mastery Parent

One has to wonder if this parent is now eating their words, after realizing the school has been keeping parents in the dark about their children’s health and safety for years.

Test scores, perhaps unsurprisingly, rank low compared to state averages, with just 22% demonstrating language arts proficiency (compared with Pennsylvania’s 63%) and 7% demonstrating math proficiency (compared with Pennsylvania’s 46%).

Philly school knew about toxic lead in drinking water but kept parents in the dark

Frederick Douglass Elementary – Mastery Schools

Frederick Douglass Mastery Charter School – Public School Review

Lead Toxicity – What Are U.S. Standards for Lead Levels? – CDC.gov

Another school resource officer assaults a child

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A school resource officer in slammed a Florida high school student to the floor in September and has finally been charged with in the incident.

Deputy Willard Miller, 38, is seen on Cross Creek High School surveillance video grabbing a 15-year-old female student by the neck and then slamming her to the floor in what appears to be a clear case of abuse of power and no fear of consequences. Miller was quickly removed from the school and placed on “restrictive administrative assignment,” but it took another month before he was suspended without pay, pending the results of an investigation. He finally turned himself in on Tuesday, when he was formally charged with child abuse without great bodily harm. He was released on $5000 bond.

Broward County School District is no stranger to violence in schools, having been the district where last year’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 people dead and 17 more injured. An investigation into the shooting found that up to 8 school resource officers ignored protocol that might have saved the lives of students and teachers by attempting to disarm the shooter and allowing additional paramedics into the building to treat the wounded. The shooting remains the deadliest high school shooting in United States history.

Miller was in the employment of the county sheriff’s department since 2016, and has served the high school since 2018. He had no prior disciplinary record.

Cross Creek High School in Pompano Beach, Florida, has a rating of 1/10 on GreatSchools, citing low test scores and poor college readiness. It has a predominately non-white minority student population of nearly 70%. Eighty-four percent of students are considered to be from low-income households. The student suspension rate is abnormally high. It is known as being a school for those with emotional or behavioral problems.

Broward County school officer accused of slamming 15-year-old student to ground

Florida Deputy Charged With Child Abuse After Throwing 15-Year-Old to Ground

Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Cross Creek School – GreatSchools

Racially charged altercation in middle school parking lot, teacher placed on leave

A minor car accident in one Pennsylvania middle school parking lot Thursday morning turned ugly when a teacher decided to make it about race, verbally attacking a parent of one of the students at the school.

In the video posted by the parent on Facebook, the white female teacher, Renee Greeley, who is blurred and unnamed, can be heard shouting, “You’re probably on welfare” and “That’s right, because you’re black, always looking to milk the system.” at an incredulous and understandably defensive African American man, Rasheed Needley, who refuses to stoop to her level. As she waddles to and from her apparently-damaged truck, she takes the opportunity to call him the n-word at least twice, and then pretend to come at him, as if she were going to make the altercation physical.

She has since been placed on “administrative leave” (which in most cases is paid), and the district apologized and assured the public that this teacher’s racist behavior is no way indicative of the school or district. The parent was grateful to the school district for the way it handled the incident, but one has to wonder how many children were on the receiving end of this teacher’s comments prior to her suspension.

The Superintendent of Schools for Upper Darby School District, in which Drexel Hill middle school resides, issued this statement Thursday evening:

Good Evening Upper Darby School District Community:

This is the Superintendent of Schools, Daniel P. McGarry. Tonight, I am calling to address the deeply troubling news and video that is circulating on social media.

Upper Darby School District has investigated an incident in which a teacher in one of our middle schools made racially charged remarks to a parent of a student who attends the school. The Principal of Drexel Hill Middle School contacted central office when he was made aware of the exchange. I met with the parent to review and discuss the incident. The parent reported that during morning drop off on Oct. 10, 2019, he and a teacher were involved in a car accident in the parking lot of Drexel Hill Middle School and that the teacher proceeded to make several racial and other derogatory remarks to him. The video of this incident has been posted to Facebook.

We took this report very seriously. As a result of the investigation, the teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation. We intend to vigorously address this issue.

Upper Darby School District does not condone or tolerate inappropriate conduct or speech associated with hate, racism, discrimination or intolerance of any kind. The deeply troubling comments and actions of this teacher are not indicative of the hundreds of outstanding teachers working in our schools each and every day. We are a District of over 12,500 students and a community of over 82,000 residents from over 60 countries, with over 70 different home languages. We are a community of many cultures and backgrounds, and we value our diversity. It strengthens us. Through the work we are doing around our Deep Equity Initiative, we will continue to challenge assumptions about the potential of the families whose children we serve and continue to increase access, opportunity, inclusion and support for all of our students.

The behavior, language, and treatment of one of our parents are not in keeping with our expectations of our teachers and staff. The comments and actions made by this teacher do not align with our core beliefs of Opportunity, Unity, and Excellence.

We will be working with our District’s Deep Equity Team to develop ways to reflect on this incident with staff across the District.

The original video, posted by the parent, is below:

Drexel Hill Middle School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, serves 1,254 students in grades 6-8. It is well below the state average in math proficiency, and closer to average for reading and science. Fifty-eight percent of the student population is white, 30% is black. Forty-nine percent of the students are from low-income households.

Drexel Hill Middle School teacher on administrative leave after racially-charged altercation with parent

Upper Darby School District – Drexel Hill Middle School

Drexel Hill Middle School – GreatSchools

Teacher arrested for being drunk at school

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source: Harlan County Detention Center

Many teachers will say their job drives them to drink, but luckily most of them do it outside of school hours.

A special education teacher in Kentucky was arrested Tuesday and charged with alcohol intoxication in a public place, after he was found in the parking lot of Evarts Elementary School, slurring his speech and smelling of alcohol. He refused a sobriety test.

Matthew Hubbard, the teacher in question, worked at the school for approximately two months prior to his arrest (prior to that it is said he worked in another county, doing who-knows-what, for many years). Pending the ongoing investigation, he has been suspended from his duties at the school.

Evarts Elementary School in Evarts, Kentucky is a PK-8 school within the Harlan County Public School System. According to GreatSchools it is about average in terms of math and reading proficiency, and while the student population is 96% white, it is also 83% low-income.

Eastern Kentucky teacher arrested for being drunk at elementary school

Deputy: Kentucky teacher charged for being drunk at school

Deputy: Kentucky teacher charged for being drunk at school

Evarts Elementary School – GreatSchools

Shooting at high school leaves one student injured, one suspect at-large

volleyball
image courtesy Vince Fleming on Unsplash

All schools in the Sheridan School District in Sheridan, Colorado are closed today after a shooting Tuesday evening during a volleyball game that sent one student from a neighboring district to the hospital. The suspect is still on the loose, and while the district insists this is an “isolated incident,” they insist that all schools need to be closed.

The shooting took place in the parking lot of Sheridan High School during a girls’ volleyball game between the school and the Bruce Randolph School in Denver.

Sheridan School District No. 2 (oddly enough, the No. 1 appears to be in Wyoming) serves students in 5 schools in Sheridan, Colorado.

Sheridan High School in Sheridan, Colorado has a student population (grades 9-12) of 369 students, 78% of whom are Hispanic. They grossly underperform on math and reading, compared with the state average. Eighty-seven percent of students meet income eligibility requirements for free lunch.

There is no mention of the shooting on Sheridan School District’s website other than a big red “All Day Closure,” banner up top, also reading, “Sheridan School District 2 is closed today, October 9, 2019 due to an incident last night.” Nice and cryptic. They do have a much more direct message on their front page about accepting all students regardless of immigration status, and their refusal to support separating children from their families at the border.

The Bruce Randolph School in Denver, Colorado serves 795 students in grades 6-12. Ninety percent of their student population is Hispanic, with another 9% listed as black. They perform even worse on standardized tests than those at Sheridan, with only 5% meeting math proficiency requirements, and 14% demonstrating reading proficiency. Eighty-eight percent of students are eligible for free lunch. The school is within Denver Public School District. No mention of the shooting is on their website at all.

All Sheridan Schools Closed After Shooting Outside High School

Shooting at Sheridan High School leaves 1 injured; suspect at-large, police say

Sheridan School District NO. 2

Sheridan High School – Public School Review

Denver Public Schools

Bruce Randolph School – Public School Review

School Resource Officers, “pillars of the community”

Just a few news articles about school resource officers over the past couple weeks.

9/23/2019 – Florida school resource officer arrests, handcuffs 6-year-old girl
School resource officer fired after arresting 6-year-olds(“She was having a tantrum,” so apparently police were called in. Their hands were bound with zip ties, they were fingerprinted and charged with battery. But the officer was fired, so I guess all’s well that ends well, right?)

9/24/2019 – School resource officer faces charge after student said he choked him (A Mississippi SRO was placed on administrative leave. The student says he was pushed into the ladies’ restroom and choked. The SRO insists it’s all a lie. Witnesses, including two teachers, corroborate the student’s story.)

9/26/2019 – Alabama grandmother alleges SRO harassed middle school student (An SRO approached a group of children in the lunch room and asked “Which one of y’all’s daddies have I not arrested yet?” When a girl responded that her father hadn’t been arrested, the SRO responded with, “That’s because you don’t know who your daddy is.” This officer has an apparent history of harassing students, yet he remains on duty.)

10/1/2019 – Lawsuit alleges disabled Parma student was sprayed with drink by school resource officer prior to suspension (Ohio parents filing the lawsuit claim they have audio proving the SRO sprayed the child with a juice box as they waited for the principal. They are also claiming discrimination – the student is American, but of Arab descent. Many of these incidents involving SRO’s are allegedly racially motivated.)

10/4/2019 – Jasper Middle School resource officer resigns after probe into texts with students (The Tennessee SRO resigned even though there was found to be “nothing inappropriate” about texting middle school students at all hours of the day and night.)

10/4/2019 – School resource officer sentenced to 1 year in jail for sexually assaulting 3 high school students (A Michigan SRO pleaded no contest to charges such as criminal sexual assault of a minor, assault, and misconduct in office. One of his victims had aspirations of becoming a police officer. Now she is scarred for life. He gets a whopping year in prison.)

This woman gets it. Her article about the need to eliminate school resource officers is spot on, and advocates for the students SRO’s do not. Schools infringe on civil liberties as they are, but school resource officers only compound the issue.

Caught on video: student resource officer chokes, handcuffs high school student

handcuffs

Student resource officers are little more than glorified CO’s at the prison that is public school. While supposedly intended to promote good relations between inner city and low-income students and police officers (assuming that they are destined to deal with them regularly in the future?), these officers regularly abuse their positions, and children have little to no rights when it comes to dealing with them.

This time, it was all captured on a cell phone camera, the video taken once things became violent. A’kayla Johnson spoke about the incident with reporters, saying, “He choked me and drug me in the hallway. I couldn’t breathe while he was choking me.”

Bobby Burnett, the officer in question, is a former chief of police who was fired from that job, and wound up working at the school. He “detained” Miss Johnson apparently because she was loitering on Brinkley High School property after hours, even after she attempted to explain she was waiting for a ride home.

Johnson is now reportedly afraid to come back to school and wishes for the resource officer to be punished. School officials are, as usual, “looking into the incident,” and assure parents the district is just as concerned as they are.

Brinkley Public Schools serves 534 students in two schools in Brinkley, Arkansas. Over 65% of its students are ethnic minorities, and it is well below the state average for reading and math test scores. Brinkley is the same school district that just last month sent out a letter to parents telling them of a reported gun on one of their school buses, so maybe they feel a real need for police presence.

VIDEO: Mid-South high school student choked, handcuff by student resource officer

Brinkley School District – Public School Review