Wednesday, September 2, 2015

City Controller Uncovers Electrical Hazards at Philadelphia Schools

After conducting inspections at 20 city schools, the Philadelphia Office of the Controller discovered dangerous building conditions, including electrical and fire hazards. Meanwhile the department uncovered even more risks at 10 other newly inspected schools. The most recent review, which occurred in June 2015, revealed electrical risks, including exposed wires, at 70 percent of the inspected sites.

Three schools – George Washington High School, Bayard Taylor Annex and Dimner Beeber Middle School – had unlocked electrical closets, which have bus bars rated at 600 volts, the report said.

Another troubling discovery: an improperly encased asbestos pipe in the basement hallway at Francis Scott Key Elementary School.

Also 15 of the 20 school buildings reviewed have some type of fire hazard – missing exit signs, hallways blocked with objects or large items in front of fire exit doors, the Controller said.

All but one school had water damage.

Some of the more oft-putting findings included unsanitary and potentially sickening bathroom conditions at four schools – "toilets that appeared to have waste permanently in them" – and cockroaches milling about in a restroom at Central High School.

Butkovitz's office also said damaged masonry and walls, tripping hazards on school grounds, water drainage problems and structural issues were present at many of the 20 schools.

Of the 10 schools inspected in 2008, two are now operating out of different facilities, Samuel S. Fels High School and Juniata Park Elementary School. Despite the move to newer properties, both still had unsafe conditions.

“The School District needs to provide a safe, sanitary learning environment for everyone, including our great teachers who must endure these conditions daily,” said City Controller Alan Butkovitz in a statement.

Click here to view the full report