Parents Not Told About Asbestos At Gainesville School

GAINESVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – Sandra Sanchez sits on her steps as her three little kids play in the front yard.  She’s lived in Gainesville for six years.  The mother says she does everything she can to protect her little ones.  She expects the same when her 5-year-old is at school.

“I want my kid to be safe knowing I’m sending him to school to learn and to be safe,” says Sanchez.

Her son Angel goes to Edison Elementary school in Gainesville.   His class was among three flooded last month after a toilet overflowed.  “I had known it was flooding, but I thought it was taken care of,” says Sanchez “I thought he would be back in his classroom by now.”

Students like Angel were moved to other rooms, but it was a discovery after the flood that has parents worried.  A crew ripping up carpet found asbestos.  “We didn’t really know what was under there,” says Tom Zimmerer who is Gainesville Independent School District’s Chief Financial Officer.

Under the damaged carpet there is old tile and under the tile there’s asbestos.  Zimmerer says since the asbestos wasn’t disturbed there was no danger.  “It has to become dust to be airborne that’s when it’s dangerous and we didn’t let it get there,” says Zimmerer.

The district immediately notified an expert, which is required by law.  But what it didn’t do was tell parents.  Some angry parents want to know why they weren’t told and why the school remained open.  “They should tell us. I would want to know,” says Sanchez.

Jacob Lovato echoes Sanchez and says he at least expected a letter sent home.  “Big concern right there with my little sister going there,” says Lovato.

When CBS 11 News asked why parents weren’t notified Zimmerer said, “Probably a goof up on our part.  Yes we should have notified parents in this case we didn’t.”

The Environmental Protection Agency confirms that the asbestos likely poses no danger to the kids, but tells us districts are required to notify parents, teachers and employees about their asbestos management plan and any action taken.

The district says the student handbook will now include the districts asbestos plan.

CBS 11 News has also learned that the Texas Department of State Health Services plans on making a visit to make sure the district is following proper procedures in its cleanup which is expected to be completed in a few weeks.


One Comment

  1. FedUpTxn says:

    My children should be SAFE where they get a FREE education screamed the illegal immigrants! Typical! Anything else you want to demand?

  2. RRHo says:

    Asbestos tile is generally considered benign. Fully encapsulated is the term the EPA uses. Unless it is taken up, there is no reason for concern, no reason for remediation, no reason for worry.

    Often we disturb asbestos to remediate it when i left alone is both less expensive and safer. Simply as long as the material is iin place it is non-friable. During the removal process it can (and usually does) become friable. Asbestos is only dangerous in friable forms.

  3. T says:

    I am also a fed up Texan. I am fed up with racists like FedupTXN who make ASSumptions that someone is an illegal immigrant because of their last name. Texas once was part of Mexico, thank you very much. I know many Hispanics whose families have been in this state since before it was a state and much longer than my German ones have been (and if I had to wager probably longer than FedupTXN’s as well).

  4. ConcernedMommy says:

    I’m a parent of a 1st grader there and we were not informed about the flood in the classroom by the school but through the local newspaper. At the time they said they would take all precautions to avoid exposure to health hazards, if there were any. Ok cool. Guess that’s okay since my child was a Kindergartener at the time and wasn’t anywhere near that part of the school.
    Then, again via the local newspaper, we discover that there is a concern for asbestos. The actual headline read “GISD refutes Edison asbestos concerns.” It said that it had not been disturbed so it was still safe. Well, if you’re like me and don’t know much about asbestos other than exposure is bad and can cause cancer, you can imagine that this was a bit disturbing to find out. Maybe a letter letting parents know about the situation and maybe an explanation to what it means for our children. To call this a “goof up” is a major understatement. And this is nowhere near the first time that parents were not notified of a major event at the school, including medical mishaps.

  5. Edison Teacher says:

    This is so not me as I am usually one that will keep my mouth shut and not cause confrontation and not trying to cause anything now, just gonna state my opinion…….however, as an employee of GISD, it is the responsibility of the DISTRICT to notify parents, EPA, TDSHS, etc., it’s not our principals who handle maintenance issues such as ripping up carpet and discovering asbestos issues, it is our maintenance department. They will then follow the proper chain of command in carrying out issues, needs, etc. to ensure all is taken care of appropriately. Sure the district messed up by not notifying parents and a note did go home today BUT some individuals have pointed the finger at one person and the blame should be placed on the individuals working closely with the issues going on in the flooded classrooms, not the campus administration. It is also the responsibility of the district to have proper procedures and guidelines in place for such situations and to my knowledge, we don’t have such a thing but will in the future. If the asbestos had been bothered (turned to dust), it would have been a bigger issue and for now it’s been blown way out of context thanks to our wonderful media. I know many individuals dislike our principal and everyone is entitled to their own opinion but unless individuals have the facts, I don’t feel like anyone at our campus should be called out as not doing their job since the individuals working in the Pre-K rooms notified maintenance of the issue who then failed to notify the principals that parents must be notified of the situation, bottom line.

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