Philadelphia's Franklin Learning Center shutting down due to asbestos

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Franklin Learning Center is now the fourth Philadelphia school to close immediately after the discovery of asbestos.

The staff at the Franklin Learning Center reported at least 50 potential health hazards, including crumbling walls and damaged paint, in the last seven months on the teachers' union Healthy Schools tracker mobile app.

These images triggered the school district to start testing the building, leading to the discovery of asbestos on Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm like, it's in the air vent?" exclaimed Paulette West, a parent of a senior at FLC. "Now they're closing the school down because this, how they air condition and heat the school? So ya'll breathing this every single day for eight hours?"

The asbestos was discovered at the bottom of an air shaft that provides heat to the entire building. Asbestos is a hazard when it's airborne.

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Philadelphia's Franklin Learning Center shutting down due to asbestos. Christie Ileto has more on Action News at 10 p.m. on December 17, 2019.

"The concern is it could be picked up and distributed throughout the building as part of the heating system in the air," said Jerry Roseman, director of environmental science for the teachers union health and welfare fund.

FLC is closed until January. It joins a handful of schools to close this school year due to asbestos.

Students have rallied at board meetings for safer learning conditions, and after a teacher was diagnosed with cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

"Our message is we will continue to investigate and inspect and make these repairs as quickly as possible," said Dr. William Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.

On Wednesday, about 200 students, teachers and parents will join other advocates from around the state in Harrisburg to rally for safer learning environments as asbestos continues to be health hazard in classrooms.
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