Detroit Public Schools Bans AFT Health Inspectors from Entering Schools
DETROIT—The Detroit Public Schools refused to allow nationally recognized industrial hygienists from entering schools today to conduct health inspections based on reports from teachers and parents that conditions are dangerous, the Detroit Federation of Teachers said. The inspections were intended to identify safety and health problems in the schools and to help the union work collaboratively with DPS to come up with solutions to address the problems.
The DFT plans to file an emergency motion with the Third Circuit Court of Michigan to permit the inspectors to enter the school buildings.
The health inspectors from New York City, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut came to Detroit at the DFT’s request. They have conducted similar inspections in schools across the country and intended to identify any health and safety problems in Detroit’s schools and recommend solutions.
DFT Interim President Ivy Bailey was told by DPS Senior Deputy General Counsel Phyllis Hurks-Hill that the inspectors were not allowed to enter the school buildings.
“Prohibiting health inspectors to enter schools further erodes the trust of the school community. Rather than collaborating with people who just want to help make our schools safe, DPS is thwarting attempts to identify and fix the unsafe, despicable conditions,” said DFT Interim President Ivy Bailey.
The inspections are a result of letters and complaints from teachers, other school employees and parents about dangerous conditions that can lead to health problems, such as mold, lead, asbestos, water damage and extreme temperatures. These health inspections would have supplemented the mayor’s inspections involving building code violations.
DFT attorney Robert Fetter said the ban is illegal. “Banning health inspectors from entering the schools is a violation of state labor law, the DFT contract and the state’s moral duty to provide a safe environment for all students and school employees,” he said.
The inspectors had planned to inspect: Spain Elementary-Middle School, Thirkell Elementary-Middle School, Mann Learning Community, Carleton Elementary School, Detroit International Academy for Young Women, Dossin Elementary-Middle School, Gardner Elementary School, Noble Elementary-Middle School and Sampson-Webber Leadership Academy.
Because they were not allowed in the schools, the inspectors plan to meet with school employees outside of schools today and tomorrow and have them fill out surveys about the problems they have witnessed.