Philadelphia parents outraged over school district's asbestos relocation plan

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia parents expressed their concerns regarding the plan to address asbestos at a pair of Philadelphia high schools.

Two town hall meetings were held Monday just days after the School District of Philadelphia shut down the Spring Garden schools indefinitely after asbestos was found.

Students were ousted from the building used by the Science Leadership Academy and Benjamin Franklin High School in the wake of a major construction project. Approximately 1,000 students are impacted.



Monday's first meeting, which was held at the School District of Philadelphia administration building for the Ben Franklin High School community, quickly turned into a sound-off session.

Parents and students not only expressed concerns over the asbestos, but displeasure with the location the district was choosing for relocating the students.



The idea is to relocate students from Ben Franklin High School and the Science Leadership Academy, which share the building at North Broad in Green Street, to Strawberry Mansion and South Philadelphia High schools.

EMBED More News Videos

Philly school community to express asbestos concerns. Jeff Chirico has more on Action News at 11 p.m. on October 6, 2019.



"If we move the children from in front of Strawberry Mansion, we know what's going to happen," said one parent.

"I grew up in this neighborhood. So there has always been tension between Spring Garden, Francisville, and Strawberry Mansion. So, putting our kids up there is putting them at risk," said Alberto Gonzalez.

For them, it's out of the question to temporarily relocate students from Ben Franklin High School or Science Leadership Academy to Strawberry Mansion.

A rally was held before an evening town hall meeting at the School District of Philadelphia administration building at 440 N. Broad Street at 5:30 p.m.



Parents echoed the same frustrations as parents from the first meeting.

EMBED More News Videos

Philadelphia parents outraged over school district's asbestos relocation plan. Christie Ileto has more on Action News at 10 p.m. on October 7, 2019.



"South Philadelphia and North Philadelphia and whoever, there's an underlining beef thing that goes on," said one student.

Superintendent William Hite says there aren't many options for the 1,000 affected students, as crews remove asbestos from the campus.

"I'm not saying I didn't mess up. I did," said Dr. William Hite. "I also said I apologize for that and now we have to work to get young people in two schools back to some normalcy as quickly as possible."

Students have already missed a week of school, leaving students and teachers worried about their education.



"It is the only consistent thing they have. So it's really hard for them," said teacher Aisha Smith.

They are also concerned about their health.

EMBED More News Videos

Philly school community to express asbestos concerns. Jeff Chirico has more on Action News at 11 p.m. on October 6, 2019.



Many students like Ben Franklin senior, Mecca Taylor, say the prospect of not returning to class until Thursday, at the earliest, is stressing her out.

School officials say a task force, comprised of parents, teachers and staff from both schools, was formed during the town hall meetings.

Officials are hoping the students can be back in class learning by October 14.
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.