I’m writing this out as a bit of a script for myself, but also – in case I completely bumble things in front of the camera – so folks can know what I MEANT to say!
My “Question” for the PPS Bond Town Hall / Forum tonight at KATU (working on shortening this to 45 seconds, OMG – so difficult!):
My name is Tamara Rubin.
My sons have brain damage and learning disabilities as a result of being lead poisoned.
This year, my youngest missed almost the entire school year because significant lead hazards were discovered in the special needs classrooms at Hayhurst school.** Dust in child accessible window sills tested positive for 20,000 micrograms of lead per square foot. The federal hazard level is 400.
In November, Courtney Wilton (with PPS facilities) contacted me to tell me these hazards had been addressed (and that the room had passed clearance tests.)
Knowing that I am an expert on the subject of lead hazard remediation*, he invited me to come see the classroom to confirm that it was safe before son started school. When I got there I saw that the hazards were not only not remediated but, in fact, the most hazardous areas (the window sills) had not even been touched and still represented an active lead hazard.
When I asked how this could happen?, who was overseeing this?, who was supposed to have done the work? who had done the alleged clearance testing? I did not receive a response to those questions.
My question to you is this:
Assuming the bond measure passes, what assurances do we (PPS parents) have that all of the work will actually be done and that it will be done using best practices that are protective of children’s health? History shows that leaving this important job of lead hazard remediation oversight to in-house facilities staff with the technical oversight of just one hazard assessment company*** is not going to protect our children. Can we instead assemble a group of independent lead hazard remediation experts to oversee the work being done? Also, can we expect full transparency?****
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Stuff I wanted to include but couldn’t fit in because of the time limit! LOL!
Each of my four sons has tested positive for lead in their blood.
All of my children have attended PPS.*
*My sons have attended Alameda, Sabin, Llewellyn, Ivy, Sellwood, Cleveland and Wilson schools in Portland (and PSU.) When I first brought the water and lead paint hazards to the attention of the school district in 2007, nothing was done. Then again in 2008, 2009… nothing was done. I am a nationally recognized expert in lead hazards and lead hazard remediation and have repeatedly volunteered my advice free of charge to help the district come up with a plan and to prioritize taking care of the significant existing hazards, yet no one with the district ever responded to my offers to help.
**Charlie just got a new school assignment about three weeks ago and has attended approximately 12 days of school this year.
***PBS Environmental has done a terrible job in advising the school in past years, with their advice (in my experience) apparently focused more on advising what can minimally be done in an attempt to protect the school district from liability vs. advising strategies and work plans that would actually protect the children who use the schools each day. As PBS was used as the hazard inspection contractor of choice under the “old regime” (Andy Fridley, Carole Smith) I highly recommend that a new / better/ higher integrity contractor be chosen under this new regime.
****[Not “more” transparency, but FULL transparency.]