Investigative Report: Alarming Failures Part V
Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:23 PM EDT
Parents and teachers are expressing concerns after a News 13 investigation exposes potential safety issues at Buncombe County schools. Some are now demanding that school officials be held accountable for not addressing these violations.
District officials now have to permit and inspect work that has been neglected for years. It looks like taxpayers will be on the hook for all of this and many are upset, saying it's a big mistake that could have been easily avoided.
This past Monday, a News 13 investigation exposed serious safety issues at Buncombe schools. We found electrical and fire safety-related work has gone un-permitted and un-inspected for years. A school electrician says his supervisors knew all about it and even told him not to pull permits for those jobs. That has many people upset.
Parent Teresa Elder says, "I'm very concerned for my child's safety." Retired teacher Linda Humphries exclaimed, "It's unfathomable.” While her husband, retired teacher George Humphries echoed those concerns saying, "Somebody needs to be held accountable for that."
George Humphries recently retired after teaching history at TC Roberson for 34 years. His wife, Linda, was a teacher at Enka Middle and High schools for the past 33 years. They're both relieved to see these safety issues finally addressed.
George told News 13’s investigative reporter Mike Mason, "I commend WLOS, and you, for having the guts to do it."
Teresa Elder has two children who attend Black Mountain Primary school. After watching our reports, she now questions how safe her children really are. Elder says, "There's no reason why we should wait for a tragedy to happen before we take the necessary action to correct the problem."
Elder remembers going to her childrens’ school for an event last January. While making pancakes, she says the outlets and breakers weren't working in the classrooms and teachers didn't seem surprised about it. Elder recalls, "They said it happens. You plugged something in and it wouldn't work anymore and it was throwing off breakers like the fish tank, we looked over and lights were off in the fish tank."
Davyne Dial hopes the News 13 investigation will spark change. She's a local activist who has taken it upon herself to videotape board meetings and post them online. She wants to make sure officials do the right thing, stating, "I'm appalled that people feel that they don't have to follow the rules. It’s very troubling and it makes me think if they're lax here on this very important issue, where else are they lax?"
This week district officials have begun addressing work done at 6 schools without the required permits. County officials then have to inspect that work to make sure it's up to code. Still no word yet on how many schools will need to be inspected or how much this will end up costing taxpayers.
By: Mike Mason
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMason1