Parents seek independent probe into renovation at Deer Park Critics distrust review by school administrators

April 30, 1996|By Marego Athans | Marego Athans,SUN STAFF

Parents of children at Deer Park Elementary School last night called for an independent investigation of the flawed renovation project that left the school with air quality problems, saying they don't trust the school system to produce an honest audit.

Deborah Stein, a parent speaking for the school's building committee, told county, school and health officials that parents want an outside agency to examine how a more than $1.5 million renovation left a state-of-the art ventilation system that failed to supply adequate fresh air and leaked anti-freeze.

"Part of it is realizing that [superintendent] Dr. Marchione was the deputy superintendent at the time the school was renovated," Ms. Stein said at a meeting at the school, where county officials formally presented results of a study on what went wrong with the air system. "It says to me that it's very likely he knew the condition of the school and that it was not clean when they brought the children back."

Reached at home last night, Dr. Marchione said he would wait to see the results of the internal audit, expected next week, before responding to the parents' requests for an external review. To charges that his administration was not to be trusted with a self-assessment because he was the system's No. 2 administrator with authority over buildings during the 1993-1994 renovation, he said:

"Whatever the audit reveals, I'm going to deal with it honestly. All of us who were in the line of authority responded to information we had at the time. I'm not an engineer. I don't evaluate the condition of buildings. Obviously we rely on others to give us information about the condition of buildings and how they're being fixed."

More than a month after the school closed because of air quality problems that health officials said could cause illness among those prone to asthma and allergies, school officials still have not answered basic questions about the bungled project.

During the renovation, facilities managers rejected recommendations of the engineer hired to design the air system. School officials have not explained who took over responsibility, why the new system was chosen and why no certified engineer signed off on the project.

Three weeks ago, Dr. Marchione removed former facilities chief Faith Hermann from responsibility over existing buildings but left her in charge of new construction.

Pub Date: 4/30/96

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