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Detroit School Accused of Asbestos Cover-Up

The Dearborn Heights School District No. 7 is facing charges of falsifying a report and covering up past asbestos contamination in a federal lawsuit that was filed this past week. Though the claim does not indicate that there is a current issue with asbestos contamination in the schools, it has been alleged that after having ordered the use of electric sanders on vinyl tiles that contained asbestos, they then reprimanded an employee who complained and warned coworkers about the danger, and that in doing so they provided falsified documentation to support their argument.

Theresa Ely, a custodian for the district, indicated that when the work was done at Annapolis High School and Madison Elementary School, employees should have been provided with protective equipment. In response, the school district indicated that the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) had cleared the actions, and that they had received a consultant’s report indicating that there was nothing to worry about. However, records from the cited agency indicated that there had actually been fines issued against the school for “serious health and safety violations” relative to the work, and that the consultant who was referenced ha never been hired to inspect either school and hadn’t written the letter.

Don Clayton of D& D Consulting reportedly indicated that he believed that a report he had provided earlier on an entirely different topic had been cut and pasted in order to make it appear that he had cleared the buildings’ safety.

Speaking of the school district’s alleged actions, Theresa Ely’s attorney said, “I’ve never seen the length that this district has gone to cover this up, from falsifying asbestos reports to issuing gag orders to employees not to talk about an item that has grave health concerns.” The school’s previous district superintendent and current interim business manager, Jeff Bartold, had previously told a MIOSHA representative that he was concerned that the complaints about asbestos would have an impact on the school’s recruitment capabilities, and that though he doubted the veracity of Ely’s charges, that even if they were correct, “he’s not sure he would still want it to be spread about.”

Speaking in the school’s defense about the federal charges, both Bartold and the district’s supervisor of plant operations, John Nicholl, have indicated that they don’t know why Clayton has denid authoring the report that is cited in the claims. They also deny that there is any kind of cover-up, and have indicated that the most important question that should be asked is whether or not any asbestos was released.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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