Despite Renovations, Health Concerns Still Plague NOLA School

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John McDonogh High School will be closing at the end of the school year, with renovations scheduled to begin this summer. According to the Recovery School District’s (RSD) estimates, the school will be open and ready for students in the fall of 2016.

For advocates of the school, including 1984 alumnus and parent of two graduates Angelina Elder, the announcement delivered to the school on January 16 by John White was a welcome one, but long overdue.

But for Elder, who for the past four years has spent much of her time contacting every individual and agency imaginable with photographs and documentation of mold, exposed asbestos, rodent droppings and extensive termite and structural damage, the kids should have been out of the building yesterday.

About six months ago, the RSD said that renovations would begin in 2016. Asked what prompted the decision to change the plan by two years, RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard said that after serious deliberations, the decision was made to accelerate the renovation plans, and give John McDonogh “the fresh start it deserves” and “make good on promises.”

Dobard said that any and all reports of hazardous mold, asbestos and termite damage were untrue, and that the building was habitable for students.

The decision to accelerate the renovations had nothing to do with any changes from a health perspective, Dobard said.

Elder doesn’t buy it. For one, Dobard has seen all of her photographs. “He knows it’s not right,” she said. “He knows he’s going to be in trouble and will lose his job. I’m not going to waste four years of my life on something that’s not true.”

Read the rest at the Louisiana Weekly