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DPS bars independent health inspectors from city schools

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools barred independent health inspectors from investigating some school buildings Wednesday.

The American Federation of Teachers hired the industrial hygienists to look into alleged environmental hazards.

But, “The district banned all of our inspectors from any of the buildings,” said Bob Fetter, an attorney representing the Detroit Federation of Teachers in a lawsuit over, among other things, dangerous environmental conditions in DPS schools.

DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski says the union failed to give “proper and reasonable prior notice,” and the district is already cooperating with ongoing city of Detroit building and health inspections.

But Fetter said the outside inspectors had already investigated one DPS school without complaint. He said hygienists’ inspections are meant to “complement” the city’s inspection efforts.

“We have members, teachers, that are out there demanding these things,” Fetter said. “Because nobody is actually testing the mold [found in some schools] to know what kind of mold it is, and what kind of threat it poses to them.”

Fetter said DPS’ move also violates the DFT’s current collective bargaining agreement, which allows union personnel access to school buildings.

He says the DFT is seeking an emergency court order to allow the inspectors into the buildings.

A spokesman for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who spearheaded the city inspection efforts after protesting Detroit teachers called attention to poor conditions in some schools, would not comment on the matter.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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