Dawkins seeks immediate action on Olney Elementary asbestos hazard

PHILADELPHIA, June 6 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today called for immediate action from the School District of Philadelphia on a report of a severe asbestos hazard at Olney Elementary School, and he wants the school closed until the hazard is addressed.

In a letter to Superintendent Dr. William Hite, Dawkins said: "It is simply unacceptable for students and staff to be exposed to asbestos fibers at more than 100 times the minimum level required to raise alarm. We cannot have our youngest and most vulnerable children exposed to these hazards and threats."

Dawkins' letter continued: "I demand to know why I, along with other elected officials throughout the city, have not been briefed on these conditions. Moving forward, the School District of Philadelphia must ensure that we are informed and armed with the information we need to keep our constituents safe and healthy – a full, districtwide report detailing hazardous conditions, such as lead, asbestos, and other toxic substances, found in the city’s schools is long overdue.

"It is clear that action is needed immediately in the case of Olney Elementary. We must work now to schedule action this summer, so that we may address this issue. In the meantime, this school building cannot remain open to students and staff. It is unacceptable to require students or district staff to sacrifice their health and well-being for a moment longer in this building."

Dawkins said it must be a top priority for the city and school district to find and direct the needed funding toward Olney and similarly affected school buildings to fix these problems as soon as possible.