The Dallas ISD board of trustees might want to start wishing and praying that an ice day cancels not only school but also their board briefing tomorrow, otherwise trustees are going to face an angry mob of Lakewood Elementary parents at the meeting.
School at Lakewood Elementary was canceled again today because of elevated carbon monoxide levels on campus. The school evacuated students Tuesday morning, following reports of nausea, headaches and vomiting from more than 50 students and staff Monday.
An email went out to parents at 10:57 last night and again at 7:13 this morning saying school would resume normally today, but then an “urgent” 7:36 a.m. email reversed course, letting parents know school would be canceled “to err on the side of caution.” By that time, parents were already out the door and had even begun dropping off students for the school day, which begins at 7:55 a.m.
A letter yesterday from Lakewood Principal Toni Goodman notified parents that “the elevated levels were caused due to a dead owl that clogged the ventilation system.” The levels in the school had returned to normal last night, according to another email from the district.
DISD spokesman Andre Riley says the levels in classrooms were, indeed, normal this morning, but when officials later checked levels in the boiler room, they were elevated.
“And to fix the boiler, you have to turn it off,” Riley says. The decision to cancel “came suddenly,” he says, “but it was the right decision to protect the kids and the staff.” Riley says officials don’t yet know whether the carbon monoxide was due to the owl or to the boiler, or both. “They both could be contributing to the same problem,” he says.
Lakewood families already were fed up with their overcrowded, unsafe facilities, and have spent the last few days emailing trustees to vent their frustrations. The carbon monoxide leak only fuels the fire, so to speak, and parents have already begun commenting in emails and on the school Facebook page that this will help convince Dallas ISD trustees to approve $12.6 million in “bridge financing” for a new facility.
“We’ve been aware of our facility’s shortcomings for years and have been working to bring that to light,” says Amy Fennegan, a Lakewood parent and spokeswoman for the Lakewood Elementary Expansion Fund (LEEF). “This is just one example of the concerns and fears that we have, and it’s not terribly surprising to us that something like this happened.”
Fennegan says she hopes it’s the last time something goes wrong to demonstrate the Lakewood facility’s needs. Though the carbon monoxide levels may add urgency and validity to the Lakewood community’s arguments for a new facility, “our message is exactly the same as it was before this, and we don’t want a band-aid solution for the furnace,” Fennegan says.
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