Monday, May 26, 2014

More Lack of Transparency: Required 10 Year Health Life Safety Report on Hinsdale Middle School Not Posted on Board Docs

Along the lines of the administration redacting safety concerns from the Facilities Surveys, it appears the administration has also chosen to withhold from the community -- and possibly even the BOE -- a copy of a Ten-Year Health Life Safety Inspection Report on Hinsdale Middle School.   How ironic and absolutely unacceptable, in light of the mold and water "intrusion" crisis at HMS less than five months ago.

According to Board Docs for the May 27 board meeting, the BOE will vote via Consent Agenda to approve the resolution.  Click to read the Resolution.  This usually means the BOE will have absolutely no discussion on this item (unless a member specifically pulls it off the agenda)  before the board will approve it unanimously.

So what does the Resolution say? It states that pursuant to the Illinois School Code (Section 105 ILCS 5/2-3.12), the BOE is required to hire an architect or engineer to conduct a Health Life Safety Inspection of a school every ten years. According to the resolution, a 10 year inspection was conducted and a report was given to the administration.  The BOE is asked to "accept" the report.

So we looked up ILCS 5/2-3.12 to see what it specifically calls for. Click to open ILCS 5/2-3/12. According to this provision, the BOE must do more than simply "accept" the report. It must approve and then implement in a "timely" fashion (within 5 years) the correction of any urgent items made in the report's "recommendations" in order "to effectuate compliance with the code." And then, to top it all off, once a year, the BOE must submit a report of progress on completion of any of the recommendations.

According to Subsection (b)(5) of this provision,

"The report shall meet all of the following requirements:
            (A) Items in the report shall be prioritized.
            (B) Urgent items shall be considered as those
items related to life safety problems that present an immediate hazard to the safety of students.
            (C) Required items shall be considered as those
items that are necessary for a safe environment but present less of an immediate hazard to the safety of students.
            (D) Urgent and required items shall reference a
specific rule in the code authorized by this Section that is currently being violated or will be violated within the next 12 months if the violation is not remedied.
        (6) The school board of each district so surveyed
and receiving a report of needed recommendations to be made to maintain standards of safety and health of the pupils enrolled shall effectuate the correction of urgent items as soon as achievable to ensure the safety of the students, but in no case more than one year after the date of the State Superintendent of Education's approval of the recommendation.
        (7) Required items shall be corrected in a timely
manner, but in no case more than 5 years from the date of the State Superintendent of Education's approval of the recommendation.
        (8) Once each year the school board shall submit a
report of progress on completion of any recommendations to effectuate compliance with the code."

So where is the Ten Year Life Safety Inspection Report for HMS?  As of the publication of this post, it was not posted on Board Docs for the community at large to read.  Is it posted anywhere for the BOE members to read?  And if so, is anyone on the board going to read it before they are vote to approve it? Is anyone on the board going to discuss any recommendations that might be included in the report or ask the administration how they plan to address them and over what period of time?

This report -- conducted by an engineer or architect -- does not (according to the school code) raise "security issues" that could arguably be withheld from the community.  The concerns raised by an architect or engineer would be structural or environmental in nature.  After the mold and water intrusion crisis at HMS, there should be no more secrecy or withholding of information from staff, parents, students or taxpayers, by either the board or administration, on what is right or wrong with HMS.

Moreover, this school code provision has been in force for more than ten years, which means there should have been at least one earlier report prepared on HMS. In light of all the recent building problems at HMS that were characterized (at a recent school board meeting by Gary Frisch) as being at least twenty years old, what did the architect/engineer recommend in the last Ten year Life Safety Report?  Were prior boards made aware of any recommendations in the earlier report and were any required items corrected in a timely manner?  Did the BOE submit a yearly report of progress on completion of any recommendations as required by the school code?

Before the BOE approves this most recent Ten Year report, it should answer each one of these questions. It should bend over backward to be transparent, provide the community with past and present reports that were prepared by an architect, engineer, BOE or D181 administration pursuant to 105 ILCS 5/2-3.12.  And if they don't, we hope Dr. White does.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This blog post raises some good points. Why does it seem that the administration and board always do things piecemeal? Wouldn't it be better to ask the administration to bring forward all HMS facilities issues at one time so that any decisions that the board needs to make can be made in full context? It seems like this report should also be reviewed by the facilities committee, along with the 10 year reports on any other school that is at least ten years old, before the masters facilities plan is drafted or presented to the board at a future date. And we agree that in all things dealing with the HMS environmental or health concerns that were finally revealed last winter nothing should be withheld from the community. Why does it seem like the administration goes out of its way to keep stuff from us, rather than post everything possible, especially on a building like HMS? Very disappointing.