EM comments on deplorable conditions

Posted at 10:53 PM, Jan 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 09:12:52-05

It's a story that has sparked local and state investigations into conditions inside the Detroit Public Schools district, and you saw it first on 7 Action News. 

Dangerous conditions have plagued Spain Elementary Middle School in Detroit.

On Monday, the City of Detroit released the results of its findings. Inspectors found deplorable conditions: rats, leaks, and mold possibly throughout the building.

It shows that when Detroit Public Schools leaders told 7 Action News there was no mold in the building, they were either wrong or telling a lie.
Emergency Manager Darnell Earley pointed out the story exposing conditions inside Spain Elementary Middle School was not news to him.

"People have known about the condition of Spain," said Earley. 

He told 7 Action News he toured the school last year.

"This did not just happen overnight," said Earley.

He knew the roof was leaking, and told school workers not to use the gym where the roof was in the worst shape. The district didn't fix it, because it was planning to sell the property to the Detroit Medical Center.

"But don't you have to prioritize building safety?" asked 7 Action News.

"If there are any issues that have been brought to our attention that suggest that any of the students or the employees, or the public are at jeopardy for being in unsafe conditions, we have addressed those," said Earley.

Teachers say that is not true. They even filed complaints with the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which contacted the district. The principal told 7 Action News he notified the district multiple times that his staff was getting sick from breathing in mold.

Teachers say only after our story aired did the district padlock the gym and use plastic to try to keep air in the gym from circulating throughout the school.

When city inspectors investigated conditions in Spain Elementary Middle School the day after 7 Action News exposed conditions, the school was far from in compliance.

"Code violations are not new to Detroit Public Schools," said Darnell Earley, brushing off the issue.

Teachers at Spain say they have been warned not to let the media in the school again. They also say code violations have not yet been addressed.

The city says it will take legal action if the district doesn't act.