When Oakman Orthopedic, a Detroit public school that focused on kids with special needs closed two years ago, Alfred Wright’s son and numerous other kids with special needs got sent to Henderson Academy.
"It is like night and day," said Wright.
He says you’d think the school now serving kids like his son, 12-year-old Timothy who has cerebral palsy and asthma, would be in prime condition. That has not been the case.
He’s seen broken handrails in the halls impacting kids with disabilities. Plus, there are problems that put all kids at risk.
There is a hole in the roof and tiles are missing from the floor.
"Two years ago, I thought they were going to fix the roof. That is the problem. My concerns now are still the same concerns," said Wright. "The hole that was there, is a bigger hole now."
He fears there is mold in the building where the roof has been leaking and could harm his son's health.
"I am very concerned," said Tawanna Simpson.
She is a school board member and asked for a tour of the school after again hearing concerns. She says she has documentation that some of the issues have been there for years.
"This isn't just dangerous for the students with special needs," said Simpson. "The tiles on the floor, I tripped personally four times."
She says under emergency management the school board is essentially powerless, and Emergency Manager Darnell Earley doesn't respond to the board's concerns.
She called 7 Action News asking if we could help her help parents fix their kids school.
We called the district, and it sent a team out to investigate the situation. The next day a crew was out fixing the roof. The handrails are being fixed. DPS Operations is in the process of replacing the handrail supports throughout the building with sturdier anchors. They hope this will prevent them from breaking in the future.
The flooring will be fixed over Christmas break.
"Thank you for bringing light to the situation," said Simpson.
We asked the district if there is breakdown in the maintenance request process that left this unaddressed.
"As it relates to the overall reporting of building issues, the District works closely with its 97 Principals to understand, prioritize and address their building issues in a timely manner," said Michelle Zdrodowski, Executive Director of Communications at DPS. "However, as you know, DPS is a district that faces significant financial challenges and works to the best of its ability to apply its resources where they are most needed. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that our students attend school in a safe, clean and supportive learning environment."
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