RYE BROOK, NY (CBSNewYork) – A prominent suburban school district was forced to close an elementary school.
The state says the district opened the building without proper inspections or other approvals.
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Parents are angry and fear their children are in danger.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reports, with the school closed, some students played wrestling, while others demonstrated outside Ridge Street Elementary in Rye Brook.
“Very disappointed, because I love going to school,” said student Chelsea Honig.
Ridge Street is in the middle of a massive renovation and addition project.
The building opened on Monday and held classes all week, even during construction.
Then a letter from the state’s education commissioner closed the school on Friday, saying the Blind Brook District “was using the space for teaching without proper inspections and other approvals.”
Web supplement: Read the letter (.pdf)
“It raises red flags. Hope this is paperwork and they weren’t sitting in an unsafe building. Because I really hope the superiors won’t allow them to be in a building that is not secure, ”said parent Alissa Levine.
After an email from the superintendent claimed no children were in danger, the state responded on Friday night. Violations included “non-functioning alarm systems” and “non-functioning sprinklers”, saying the decision to open without approval showed “brazen, possibly criminal contempt.”
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“I’m just confused. I want to understand what’s going on,” said one parent.
Several parents told Aiello they were furious they learned of the shutdown from an online news article, rather than a district email.
The chairman of the board apologized and the district promised to submit all required inspection certificates to the state and to reopen the school as soon as possible.
It’s clear that the shutdown has opened up some lingering trust issues.
“I don’t think I trust anyone at the moment. It’s so upsetting that I feel like we’ve been kind of lied to, ”said parent Ivy Adler.
The state called the issues “multiple serious violations,” saying it is “unfathomable” that the district did not close the school until the state issued an emergency directive.
On Friday afternoon, the school board declared itself “outraged” by the allegations by the state’s education department and said it had a valid certificate of occupancy for the school until. which the state revokes on Wednesday evening.
On Saturday, an official from the state’s education ministry told CBS2:
Any previously issued Certificate of Occupancy (CO) was no longer valid after major changes were made to the building in Spring / Summer 2021 due to construction that took fire protection systems offline, which included fire alarm and sprinkler systems, modifications to fire partitions and modifications to prevent a safe exit. All of these measures are required basic security systems and design components. As district officials acknowledged in their communications when they asked us for permission to go to distance learning before the start of the school year, the extensive construction required a new CO and inspection before the school year began. the building is not reoccupied. The many violations discovered, including non-operational fire safety systems, in the School demonstrate the wisdom of this legal requirement.
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Editor’s Note: This story was first published on September 17th.