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DOCUMENT RESUME 



UD 033 691 

Environmental Action Guide for New York City Schools. 
Advocates for Children of New York, Inc., Long Island City.; 
Healthy Schools Network, Inc., Albany, NY. 

1999-00-00 

42p . ; "We gratefully acknowledge the New York Foundation 
whose generous support has enabled this project." 

Guides - Non-Classroom (055) -- Reference Materials - 

Directories/Catalogs (132) 

MF01/PC02 Plus Postage. 

Crowding; *Educational Facilities; Elementary Secondary 
Education; * Environmental Standards; Health; *Occupational 
Safety and Health; Public Schools; *School Safety; Urban 
Schools 

*New York City Board of Education 

The purpose of this guide is to inform parents, advocates, 
and school personnel about existing laws and resources available to ensure 
that every child and every school employee has an environmentally safe and 
healthy school that is clean and in good repair. An environmentally safe and 
healthy school is one of the principles adopted by the New York State Board 
of Regents; others are that schools should be role models of environmentally 
responsible behavior and that public officials should be held accountable for 
school conditions. The guide identifies typical hazards, explains why the 
hazards are important, and describes how and where to look for them. It also 
points toward laws that the school might be violating by allowing problems to 
go uncorrected. The rights identified for users of New York schools are: (1) 

clean indoor air,* (2) an asbestos-safe school; (3) a lead-safe school; (4) an 
appropriate and uncrowded classroom; (5) safe heat and ventilation; (6) 
freedom from fire hazards; (7) crack- free walls and ceilings,* (8) a safe 
playground; (9) usable and sanitary bathrooms; (10) a pest -free school; (11) 
a pesticide- free school; and (12) information about the school building. 
Appendixes contain sample complaint letters, further affirmative steps, and 
congressional contact information. (SLD) 



ED 443 909 
TITLE 

INSTITUTION 

PUB DATE 
NOTE 

PUB TYPE 

EDRS PRICE 
DESCRIPTORS 

IDENTIFIERS 

ABSTRACT 



o 

ERLC 



Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made 
from the original document. 



New York City Healthy Schools Working Group 






A 



Environmental Action Guide 

for 

New York City Schools 



U S DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 
Office ot Educational Research and improvement 
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION 1 
/ CENTER (ERIC) 

H This document has been reproduced as 
received from the person or organization 
originating it. 

□ Minor changes have been made to 
improve reproduction quality. 



• Points of view or opinions stated in this 
document do not necessarily represent 
official OERI position or policy. 



£ 



33 



Advocates for Children of New York, Inc. 
and 

Healthy Schools Network, Inc. 



PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE AND 
DISSEMINATE THIS MATERIAL HAS 
BEEN GRANTED BY 

Jill CJdAi fkh. 

C J" l<Wi 

TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES 
INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC) 



Copyright ® 1999 



Table of Contents 

Preface ^ 

Introduction ^ 

Your Right to Clean Indoor AIR 5 

Your Right to an ASBESTOS-safe School 9 

Your Right to a LEAD-safe School ^ 

Your Right to an APPROPRIATE and UNCROWDED CLASSROOM 13 

Your Right to a School that is Safely HEATED and VENTILATED 15 

Your Right to a School that is Free From FIRE HAZARDS 17 

Your Right to CRACK-FREE Walls, Ceilings and Floors 19 

Your Right to a SAFE PLAYGROUND 20 

Your Right to USABLE and SANITARY BATHROOMS 22 

Your Right to a PEST-free school ^3 

Your Right to a PESTICIDE-free School 24 

Your Right to Information about the SCHOOL BUILDING • 26 

27 

Appendices 

Appendix A: Sample Complaint Letters 27 

Appendix B: Further Affirmative steps ^2 

Appendix C: Congressional Contact Information 34 



PREFACE 



Families and communities are working hard to protect the next generation from 
the threats of violence and addictions. Yet, other threats such as childhood asthma, 
learning disabilities, behavior problems, and some cancers are increasing rapidly despite 
parents' best efforts and advances in medicine. New research demonstrates that young 
children are uniquely vulnerable to environmental health hazards, and some health and 
learning problems are linked to pollutants. This means we must protect our children 
against environmental hazards in homes, schools, and communities that can threaten or 
impair their long-term health and ability to leam. Indeed, our success as a society will be 
judged on the relative health, independence, and success of the next generation. 

The purpose of this GUIDE is to inform parents, advocates, and school personnel 
about existing laws and resources available to ensure that every child and every school 
employee has an environmentally safe and healthy school. There are several Principles of 
School Environmental Quality adopted by the New York State Board of Regents in 
December 1994: that every child and school employee has a right to an environmentally 
safe and healthy school which is clean and in good repair; that schools are role models of 
environmentally responsible behavior; and that public officials are held accountable for 
school conditions. We hope this guide can help assure that each of these principles is met 
for every school in New York. 

The Guide is a joint project of Healthy Schools Network, Inc. (HSN) and 
Advocates for Children of New York, Inc. (AFC). We gratefully acknowledge the New 
York Foundation whose generous support has enabled this project. We would like to 
thank all the members of the New York City Healthy Schools Working Group who 
contributed their expertise and editing skills. 




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INTRODUCTION 



As our children go off to school, we hope they will learn, play, and have good 
experiences with other students and their teachers. But we also worry- about gangs, 
violence, and drugs or alcohol. We rarely hear or think about the environmental threats 
that face our children and their teachers in school every day: walls covered with peeling 
lead-based paint or mold; stopped up sinks and over-flowing toilets; indoor air 
contaminated with asbestos, dust, or chemical fumes from cleaning agents or construction 
materials; hazardous art, sciences, and vocational education supplies; pest infestations 
temporarily checked with toxic pesticide applications to buildings and grounds; 
playgrounds that invite children to swing, climb and slide, but with lead and pesticide 
contaminated dirt and no cushioned surfaces for the youngest learners. In addition to 
exposure to construction hazards and noise during the regular school year, children in 
school during the summer may have a magnified exposure risk to environmental hazards 
since schools schedule heavy cleaning and renovations for the summer. 



NEWS ABOUT CHILDREN'S ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH 

Children are particularly at risk from many environmental threats. Ultimately, 
they are exposed to more hazards because their body organs and systems are still 
developing, they eat proportionally more food, drink more fluids, and breathe more air 
per pound of body weight than adults, and they are least able to protect themselves. This 
is why we all must work to keep our children safe from the environmental threats we are 
able to control or avoid. 

INFORMATION ABOUT SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTS 

Nationally, the US Government Accounting Office (US GAO, 1995) reported that 
the nation’s children faced an epidemic of indoor air pollution at school and other threats 
due to decayed, neglected infrastructure. US GAO estimated that some 14 million 
children attended the one-third of schools needing major repairs, including environmental 
problems that can threaten their health and learning. In New York State, the Education 
Department over the last four years has held dozens of hearings on the conditions of 




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schools. The state has also reported that the poorest children have the schools in the worst 
condition and that environmental problems have adversely impacted learning. According 
to the New York State Education Department, the state's 4,200 schools enroll 2.8 million 
children every year. Over one-third of the schools these children attend have polluted 
indoor air and/or building failures that lead to indoor contamination. Environmental 
hazards such as leaky roofs, poor ventilation, out-dated boilers, and faulty wiring are 
impairing children’s rights to a free appropriate public education. We have a duty to act 
to make sure this no longer occurs. 

THE LEGAL ACTION GUIDE: Children and School Environments 
This Guide, written for students, parents, school employees, and other concerned 
members of the New York City education community, is intended to provide information 
about correcting environmental problems in New York’s schools. While focused on New 
York City public schools, many laws also apply to other New York State public schools 
as well. The Guide can help you protect your child or yourself from environmental 
hazards found in too many schools. Not all buildings have the same problems. The Guide 
identifies typical hazards, explains why the hazards are important, and describes how or 
where to look for them. In addition, the Guide points you towards the laws that your 
school might be violating by allowing problems to go uncorrected. Most importantly, we 
have provided phone numbers of offices and organizations that can help you if you spot 
any of these problems in your school. We recommend that before calling any of the 
offices outside your school, first speak to your principal, or a member of your School 
Leadership Team. 

If you are a school employee you should talk to your union representative. We 
also urge you to share your information with parents of any affected children. There is 
nothing that destroys parents' trust in schools more than finding out that school personnel 
and school officials who knew of possible hazards failed to act or concealed information. 

Parents: always ask if someone in your school is aware of the problem, or is 
willing to work with you to solve the problem. Good people to talk to at scncoi include 
the Head Custodian and the head of the Parents’ Association as well as the principal and 
members of the school leadership team. If, after you have given the person you have 



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spoken with a chance to take action, and you see that nothing is being done to remedy the 
situation, you should take action yourself by calling the numbers provided in this guide. 

To get problems fixed almost always takes more than one phone call. Short letters 
work best because they leave a 'paper trail'; keep a copy for yourself. To help we have 
printed sample letters at the end of this guide - just change the details so the letter fits 
your situation. And don't forget to involve friends, parents, or other groups in the 
neighborhood to help you. You have a right to ask and to take some actions. No one 
should live, go to work, or learn in unsanitary or hazardous conditions. 

We have placed asterisks (*) next to the organizations that we think can be most 
helpful. Additionally, at the back of the guide is a list of government officials you can 
call if you're not getting help or answers from the school or the organizations we’ve 
listed. 

If you have no success at getting the problem corrected, please call Advocates for 
Children of New York at 212-947-9779 or the Healthy Schools Network at 5 1 8-462-0632 
to get assistance. 



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Your Right to Clean Indoor AIR: 

Why is INDOOR AIR QUALITY important? 



It is extremely important for children to have learning places that are free from air 
pollution. Air-bome pollutants in schools include dirt, dust, lead, asbestos fibers, 
chemical fumes, carbon monoxide and other gases, pesticides, bacteria, mold, cockroach 
or pest leavings, tar and diesel fumes, and many other contaminants from machines and 
people in the building. These pollutants come from surfaces in the building, cleaning 
products, paints and floor finishes, carpets, other occupants of the building, buses, the 
outdoor air, and they can be a result of demolition or construction. They can cause a wide 
range of problems from asthma to flu-like symptoms such as headaches, sore throats, 
memory problems, joint pain, and nausea. Not everyone has the same reactions, but 
children and adults with pre-existing health problems including asthma, allergies, or 
chemical sensitivities generally have more problems. Many of us spend up to 90% of our 
time in homes, schools, stores, offices, and other workplaces, constantly exposing 
ourselves to dangerous airborne pollutants. 

Asthma, in particular, is of enormous concern, as it is the leading cause of school 
absenteeism due to chronic disease. Nationally, it affects nearly 5 million children below 
the age of 18. 1 A recent study found that the hospitalization rates were 21 times higher in 
poor, minority areas than in well-off communities in New York City. Both indoor and 
outdoor pollutants contribute to asthma. 2 

How can you recognize AIR QUALITY problems? 

As a parent, student or school employee, to diagnose air-quality problems in your school 
there are three main things you can do: 

1 . Think about your child. Does your child have more frequent or more severe asthma 
attacks on school days? What about other health or breathing problems? Are your 
child’s schoolmates also coming home from school with health complaints? 

2. Go to school and get permission to walk through the halls to your child's class (es). 
Are you experiencing any breathing problems or other health problems such as itchy 
eyes, headaches or nausea while you are there? Are there any musty, moldy, dusty, 
or strong chemical odors? Try to identify the source(s) of the smells. 

3. Here are some things to look for: 



1 www.epa.gov/epadocs/child/htm, 6/1 1/99 

2 “Far More Poor Children are Hospitalized for Asthma, Study Shows,” The New York Times, July 27, 
1999 



Staining or deterioration of walls and other surfaces : This might mean mold or other 
microorganisms are growing there. Any carpeting or furnishings that have been wet for 
more than 74 hours need special vacuuming or cleaning. They may need removal. 

Copy machines and print shops : Copy machines produce ozone, which has been linked to 
lung problems; print shops may use toxic inks and cleaning fluids. In order to avoid the 
harmful effects of ozone or toxic supplies, machine areas should be in a room with good 
ventilation (open windows and/or exhaust fans). 

Art, science, and vocational classes: Paints, glues, and other art, science and vocational 
supplies contain chemicals that can be toxic to children and pollute the air. These class 
spaces need to reduce their use of toxic products and/or provide good ventilation, 
meaning lots of fresh air and exhaust fans. 

Buses : Buses by law are not supposed to stay outside school for more than three minutes 
with their engines running. If it is more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit outside, buses cannot 
let their engines run at all. The fumes that are released by buses are poisonous in high 
enough concentrations and can cause breathing problems. 

Construction : Demolition and construction can create hazardous dust, fumes, and noise. 
This can make breathing and learning very difficult or impossible for some children. 

Asbestos : Dangers associated with asbestos are addressed in the Asbestos section. 

Are there iaws about AIR QUALITY? 

Yes, though there should be more. State law protects acceptable air quality in schools. A 
law called the Public Employees Safety and Health Act (PESH) protects teachers, 
administrators, and other people working at public schools from working in an 
environment with certain toxins in the air. Consequently, children are indirectly 
protected by law from learning in a school with poor air quality. However, there aren’t 
laws requiring schools to test indoor air quality, and tests are not always good indicators 
of healthful indoor air. There are no standards for indoor air established specifically for 
children. 

There is a state regulation that specifically addresses the right to a well-ventilated room. 

8 New York Code of Rules and Regulations (N.Y.C.R.R.) 1 55. 1 (b)(3)(ii) says that each 
teaching space should have a constant supply of fresh air to avoid the problem of odor, 
toxins and dust build-up; In addition, the New York City Health Code, section 45.1 1 says 
that each school room should be properly ventilated, but not so well-ventilated as to 
cause drafts. 8 NYCRR 155.3(d) covers rules for heating and ventilating and air 
conditioning for non-Big City schools in the state. 

Regarding outside air pollution, Section 24-163 of the New York City Administrative 
Code specifically states that buses cannot leave their motors running for more than three 
minutes, and cannot leave them running at all when it is warmer than 40 degrees outside. 




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Low cost steps to improve school air quality 

Have your school use nontoxic cleaning and other products; stop bus idling; have custodians 
damp mop instead of dry sweep halls and classes; make sure the school is protecting school 
occupants during renovations; increase fresh air supply by making sure windows are open; make 
sure your school repairs leaks and water damage quickly; keep garbage and litter picked up and 
bathrooms vented. 



Who can you contact about AIR QUALITY problems at school? 

New York City Board of Education (BOE), Office of Occupational Health and Safety. 
718-935-2319 (They must be contacted by a principal, district office, or parents’ 
association. If you are having an air quality problem at your school, ask someone to 
contact this office and they will investigate.) 

* BOE Office of Environmental Health and Safety, 718-391-6475 (Contact the school 
custodian before contacting this office so that you can be sure that the problem is not one 
the custodian can handle. They will investigate and take air quality samples or should do 
an occupational health survey.) 

NYC Department of Health, Asthma Action Line : 1-877-ASTHMA-O (They don t 
generally deal with schools, but they’re a good place to contact for general asthma 
problems.) 

NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC): 718-482-4900 (for outdoor air 
quality problems) 



NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) air quality unit: 212-312-8950 (We 
tried calling and were unsuccessful at getting a person on the phone— you can try and 
maybe you’ll have better luck then us) 

* BOE Office of School Facilities, Chief Executives Office, Pete Smith: 718-391-6466 
BOE Office of Transportation Services: 718-392-8855 (for idling buses causing air 
problems) 

*New York State Department of Labor (overseas public employee safety rules, including 
airborne chemical toxins; investigates complaints; can be contacted by a public school 
employee bu't not by a parent/guardian) write to: New York City District, 345 Hudson 
Street, Mail Stop 7F PO Box 683, New York, NY 10014 or call (212) 352-6132 or 
Fax (212) 352-6138 

NYS DOH Environmental Health Infoline: 1-800-458-1 158 x 2-7810 
USEPA Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse: 1-800-438-4318 
American Lung Association: 1-800-LUNG-USA 




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Healthy Schools Network, Inc. 518-462-0632 or Advocates for Children at 212-947-9779 
information about Guides, reports, factsheets, and technical assistance: Parent Guide to 
School Air Quality; Allergies, Asthma, and Chemical Sensitivity packet; Student Health 
Checklist; Memo for Physicians on Requesting Accommodation; posters; What to do if 
your child has an environmental exposure at school (written by and for parents); Guide 
to Healthier Cleaning Practices and Products; ...and more. 



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Your Right to an ASBESTOS-safe School 



Why is ASBESTOS bad? 

For decades asbestos was used in construction to strengthen products, to pio Leat 
insulation and to provide fire resistance. It is now known that asbestos fibers can have 
serious effects on the health of everyone who breathes them in. When breathed in, 
asbestos lodges itself in the lungs. People who are regularly exposed to asbestos may 
later develop asbestosis or lung cancer. Both of these illnesses can be fatal. 

Asbestos-containing materials can be managed safely in a school that is in good repair 
and kept clean. Asbestos is often found around pipes in insulation, and in floor and 
ceiling tiles. Not all asbestos needs to be immediately removed, but it must be controlled. 

How can you recognize ASBESTOS problems? 

Every school, public and private, is required to test for and notify the public of loose 
asbestos. Remodeling or other types of construction can disturb asbestos fibers that are 
already in the building and cause them to be released into the air where they can be 
inhaled. Unfortunately, asbestos is not easily recognizable. It comes in different shapes, 
sizes, exterior coverings and colors. Only proper testing can determine if what you see is 
truly asbestos. Asbestos is often found as insulation around pipes and boilers. If you see 
insulation that is in poor condition (ripped, peeling, etc), or floor tiles being removed for 
construction, you should ask school officials to tell you what health protections are in 
place or what actions will be taken. 

Are there laws about ASBESTOS? 

Yes! There are federal, state and local laws that act to reduce the risk of asbestos 
exposure in schools. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) is a 
federal law. The regulations are found in 40 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Part 
763. These regulations specifically discuss the management of asbestos containing 
materials in schools. Asbestos may not have to be removed but just managed in a safe 
manner. Every school must have an AHERA report. New York State regulations 12 
N.Y.C.R.R. Part 56 and 10 N.Y.C.R.R. Part 73 address the removal of asbestos from 
public places and the appropriate training required for people working with asbestos 
generally. 

Who can you contact about ASBESTOS problems in school? 

BOE Office of Environmental Health and Safety: 718-391-6475 (Contact your custodian 
before contacting this office so that you can be sure that the problem is not one the 
custodian can handle. They can investigate and test for asbestos You can also ask to see 
your school’s AHERA report.) 

NYC DOH Bureau of Environmental Investigation: 212-442-3372 (will investigate) 

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NYS DEC: 7 1 8-482-4900 (for disposal, not removal problems) 

NYS DOH Environmental Health Infoline: 1-800-458-1158 x27940 (will provide 
information and will investigate) 

Office of School Facilities, Chief Executives Office, Pete Smith: 718-391-6466 

* NY State Department of Labor (overseas public employee safety rules, including 
asbestos; investigates complaints; should be contacted by a public school employee and 
not by a parent or guardian) 

State Department of Labor 
New York City District 
345 Hudson Street 
Mail Stop 7F PO Box 683 
New York, NY 10014 
Tel. (212)352-6132 
Fax (212) 352-6138 

US Environmental Protection Agency (enforces AHERA nationally) 

National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants Program 

US EPA 

290 Broadway 

New York, NY 10007 

Tel: 212-637-4042 

New York State Education Department (enforces AHERA for all schools in the state) 
NYS Education Department 
Office of Facilities Planning/AHERA 
Education Building Annex, 10 th floor 
Albany, NY 12234 
Tel: 518-474-3906 



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Your Right to a LEAD -safe School_ i 



Why is LEAD harmful? 

Lead is harmful because it is a poison that is readily absorbed by children eitnei through 
the lungs when it is breathed, or through the gut when it is swallowed and is carried to all 
organs of the body, including the brain, which is the most sensitive organ in a young 
child. Even at low concentrations, lead can permanently decrease brain function. 

There are two main ways lead gets into the school environment. Old lead-based paint can 
be under coats of newer, non-leaded paint, and drinking water can be contaminated by 
contact from old pipes. Lead paint becomes dangerous when it begins to flake off and 
turn to dust. Lead dust, like all dust, can enter our bodies when we breathe. Lead dust 
can also accumulate on toys that children might put into their mouths or can settle on 
something we touch, creating the risk of it clinging onto our fingers and being eaten when 
we handle food. When we drink contaminated water, the lead is absorbed by our bodies. 

Elevated blood lead levels have been associated with several problems, including 
neurological disorders that are often permanent. These disorders include attention deficit 
disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), aggressive and 
impulsive behavior, and mental retardation. Younger children are especially vulnerable 
to the harmful effects of lead. 

How can you recognize LEAD problems? 

You can not see, smell, or taste lead. It is difficult, if not impossible, to identify lead 
problems just by looking. One thing you can look for is chipping, flaking, or peeling 
paint. Lead paint was banned in 1978, but some schools used paint supplies after that 
date. If your school was built before 1980, it will probably have lead paint underneath the 
current coat of paint. Even if your school has been painted since 1978, if the previous 
paint layers have not been properly removed, lead paint may be exposed through the 
chipping or peeling of the newer layers. This is one reason why school roof repair and 
building maintenance are so important to your child's health. Demolition can also create 
lead-contaminated dust. 

If you see, or your child tells you about chipped or peeled paint, or dust from repairs that 
has not been controlled or carefully cleaned up, you should take action immediately by 
trying to get the paint or its dust tested for lead. 

There is no easy way to determine if there is lead in your water, except by testing. Tests 
must be conducted on water samples to determine what the lead content of your water is. 
Some parent groups have taken school water samples to the local hospital !" u far tasPng. 
If water tastes strange, that may indicate other problems that should be investigated. 

Lead can still get into school supplies. Ask your school to make sure its art and other 
classroom supplies are 'lead-safe'. Be careful about donated products. 




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Are there laws about LEAD? 



Yes! There are federal laws about lead in school drinking water. 42 United States Code 
(U.S.C.) 300J-24 and 42 U.S.C. 300j-25 are set up specifically to help schools identify 
lead problems in their water. 42 U.S.C. 300f, The Safe Drinking Water Act, sets 
standards for acceptable levels of contaminants in water, including lead. 

New York State Public Health Law Sec. 1373 gives power to the Commissioner of Health 
to enforce the correction of paint conditions that could lead to lead poisoning. 

The New York City Health Code Sec. 45.12 makes it illegal for lead paint to be present 
in kindergarten settings. 

Federal laws don’t require schools specifically to test for lead in paint, soil, or dust. 

Who can you contact about LEAD problems in school? 

BOE Office of Environmental Health and Safety. 718-391-6475 (Contact your custodian 
before contacting this office so that you are sure that the problem is not one the custodian 
can handle. They will investigate and test for lead in drinking water.) 

NYC DOH Lead Poisoning Prevention Program : 212-BAN-LEAD (226-5323) (We have 
found they generally do not deal with school-based problems, but are a good resource if 
you have a general question about lead.) 

* NYC DOH Bureau of Environmental Investigation'. 212-442-3372 (will investigate 
situation) 

NYC BOE of School Facilities, Chief Executives Office, Pete Smith : 718-391-6466 
US Environmental Protection Agency (enforces lead abatement regulations): 

Toxic Substances Program 
Environmental Protection Agency 
Mail Code MS 500. Building 5 
2890 Woodbridge Avenue 
Edison, NJ 08837 
732-321-6671 

Drinking Water Hotline (can help locate a lab to test water), 1-800-426-4791 
National Lead Information Center 800-424-LEAD 

Healthy Schools Network, Inc. (518-462-0632) or Advocates for Children for Children 
(212- 947-9779) for information about the State Education Department guidelines on 
lead-safe school products. 





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Your Right to an APPROPRIA TE and_ UNCROWDED CLASSROOM^ 



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Why are APPROPRIATE and UNCROWDED CLASSROOMS important in terms 
of health and safety? 

Overcrowded classrooms, or classes conducted in non-appropriate rooms, such as 
auditoriums, closets, bathrooms, hallways and basements can affect how well children 
leam. Substandard environmental conditions can make it difficult to learn. 

It can also be dangerous for children to leam in these settings. Overcrowding promotes 
unsanitary, unsafe conditions, and can contribute to polluted indoor air. It is easy for 
illnesses to spread in tight, enclosed rooms— especially if the room is not well ventilated. 
And too many people crowded together make ventilation difficult. 

Children often don’t have access to proper equipment in non-traditional and overcrowded 
classrooms. Working at improperly sized desks and chairs can cause injury to the back 
and to the neck. Children, like adults should work at proper workstations to minimize the 
risk of occupational injuries. 

It is also important for classrooms to have adequate lighting. Poor lighting leads to 
eyestrain that can result in a permanent injury requiring a child to use corrective lenses. 

How can you tell if your child has an APPROPRIATE and UNCROWDED 
CLASSROOM? 

This is easy. Ask your child or go look. Is your child taught in a traditional classroom? 
How many children are in your child’s class? How big is the room? Are there chairs and 
desks for every child? Are children forced to share desks? Are the desks squeezed into a 
room too small? Is the room in the basement? Does the room have good ventilation 
specifically, does the room have windows that open and close? Are the windows painted 
or nailed shut? If there are no windows, does air still circulate in from somewhere else or 
is the room completely stuffy? 

Are there laws about APPROPRIATE and UNCROWDED CLASSROOMS? 

Yes! Two state regulations address the issue of traditional and uncrowded classrooms. 
State regulation 8 N.Y.C.R.R. 155.1(b)(2)(iii) says that teaching areas must have a 
window arrangement that provides a view of the outside. State regulation 8 N.Y.C.R.R. 
155.1 (b)(2)(i v) says that teaching areas must be properly proportioned. 

A number of city laws address classroom conditions. NYC Health Code Section 49.07 
guarantees that there be 15 square feet of floor space per child. NYC Health Ccd? Section 
45.1 1 sets standards for the amount of lighting that is needed in each classroom. Section 
45.1 1 also provides that classes cannot be conducted in the cellars of schools, and that 
schools cannot be located in factories or other business buildings. Sections 49.09 and 
45.13 of the Health Code stress the need for appropriately sized equipment for children. 

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Who can you contact if your child does not have an APPROPRIATE and 
UNCROWDED CLASSROOM? 

For this problem, your best bet, after speaking with people in the school is to speak to the 
district superintendent or someone else at the district office. You can also try: 

Office of School Facilities, Chief Executives Office, Pete Smith : 718-391-6466 

NYC Dept of Health Complaints Hotline: 212-442-9666 



Your Right to a School that is SAFEL Y HEA TED and VENTILA TED: 



Why is it important for the school to be SAFELY HEATED AND VENTILATED? 

Schools need to be heated during the winter for the obvious reason of ket-pit^ children 
and school employees warm and supplied with fresh air. However, heat brings with it 
some safety risks. It is necessary for schools to be well ventilated, even when they are 
being heated; otherwise toxins — the kinds of air pollutants that were mentioned earlier — 
build up in the air. Schools are particularly at risk of being poorly ventilated during 
winter months when windows are kept closed to keep the heat in. School classrooms that 
are always too hot or too cold can also affect learning. 

Another heat-health risk is from boilers. All boilers need to be inspected regularly. If 
boilers are not properly maintained, they can explode and cause serious injury to anyone 
who happens to be in the area. Some schools still use coal boilers which if they 
malfunction can release carbon monoxide or other dangerous gasses. 

How can you tell if your school is not SAFELY HEATED and VENTILATED? 

The easiest way to tell in terms of whether or not your school is safely heated is to simply 
check the temperature inside of the school or to ask your child. If you are a school 
employee, the answer will be obvious. If your child tells you she or he is cold or is 
packing an additional shirt or wearing a short sleeve shirt in the middle of winter, that 
may be an indication that the school is not properly heated. Is the temperature appropriate 
considering the outside temperature? Are the rooms too drafty or not ventilated enough? 

Find out when the boilers were last inspected. Unfortunately, that is not something that 
you can just ask your child about. You will need to speak with the custodian or someone 
else who is knowledgeable. Find out who inspected the boilers. Get their name title and 
date that s/he inspected. Was the inspector properly licensed? If the building is being 
heated by something other than a boiler, check to see that there are adequate protective 
guards on the equipment. 

Are there laws about schools being SAFELY HEATED and VENTILATED? 

Yes! New York City Health Code Section 131.03 states that a person hired to heat a 
building must heat all occupied parts of the building to at least the minimum prescribed 
temperature. Section 45.1 1 of the Health Code says that a temperature between 68 and 
72 degrees must be maintained in a building occupied by children whenever the outside 
temperature drops below 55 degrees. 

New York State Labor Law Section 204 addresses boiler inspection and New York State 
Labor Law Section 216 addresses the penalty for failure to inspect boilers. 



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Who can you contact if your school is not SAFELY HEATED and VENTILATED? 

* BOE Office of Environmental Health and Safety: 718-391-6475 (Contact your 
custodian before contacting this office so that you can be sure that the problem is not one 
the custodian can handle. They will investigate and take air quality samples) 

NYS DEC : 718-482-4900 (if burning oil or chemicals are causing problems) 

* Office of School Facilities, Chief Executives Office, Pete Smith: 718-391-6466 

* NY State Department of Labor (overseas public employee safety rules, including 
airborne chemical toxins; investigates complaints; should be contacted by a public school 
employee and not by a parent or guardian) 

New York City District 
345 Hudson Street 
Mail Stop 7F PO Box 683 
New York, NY 10014 
Tel. (212) 352-6132 
Fax (212) 352-6138 



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Your Right to a School tjiat is Free From FIRE HAZARDS 



What types of FIRE HAZARDS are there? 

Schools need to be up to par with the state and New York City Building Cocic. Schools 
cannot be opened unless they have a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) from the NY C 
Department of Buildings and the Fire Department. If schools do not meet Building Code 
requirements, the risk of a fire increases, as does the risk of serious injury resulting from 
a fire. 

All schools must have interior fire alarms that are tested regularly and are connected to 
the fire department. If schools are not equipped with working alarms, it takes people 
longer to become aware of an actual fire and the danger is increased. If the alarms are 
not connected to the fire department, the department will be unable to respond 
instantaneously. Without connected alarms, they will not know to come unless someone 
contacts them. The longer the delay between when a fire starts and when people become 
aware of it, the greater the risk of a serious injury resulting. 

Schools must also hold regular fire drills. Without fire drills, no one would know what to 
do if a fire were to break out, and, again, the risk of a serious injury would be increased in 
the event of an actual fire. 

In rooms such as chemistry labs and custodial areas, flammable items must be stored in a 
safe manner so as to limit the possibility of an explosion. When flammable items are 
stored in a poorly ventilated room and in proximity to other items that they may react 
with, the risk of a fire breaking out is much greater than normal. Paint can be a 
flammable material. Paints should be nonflammable or stored in well-ventilated rooms 
that have fire extinguishers. Even when flammable materials are stored as safely as 
possible, there is still a risk that a fire will break out, so it is important that fire 
extinguishers be available so that the fire can be contained and put out before it has a 
chance to spread. Eliminating as many flammable and combustible items from school 
supplies is an environmentally healthy practice. 

Are there laws about FIRE HAZARDS in schools? 

Yes! New York State Education Law 807 mandates fire drills in schools. The Rules of 
the City of New York provide for the installation of fire alarms in all schools, and also 
identify flammable materials and the manner in which they should be stored (2 RCNY 
8.01, 3 RCNY 34.01, 3 RCNY 22.01 and 3 RCNY 28-02.) 




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Who can you contact about FIRE HAZARDS? 

* Office of School Facilities, Chief Executives Office, Pete Smith: 718-391-6466 

New York City Fire Department Inspection Unit (empowered to conduct safety 
inspections of buildings to determine whether any conditions are present which violate 
the City Fire Code or create a fire safety hazard; can order correction of any such 
violation) 

New York City Fire Department Inspection Unit 
250 Livingston Street 
Brooklyn, NY 11201 



NYC Department of Buildings (can inspect construction work, machinery and equipment; 
can order a dangerous condition that is “detrimental to life or health” to be fixed, or can 
cause the building to be vacated. Detrimental conditions include “the overcrowding of 
persons therein, defects in the construction, or deficiencies in fire alarm, or fire 
extinguishing equipment or fire escape equipment.” NYC Admin Code 26-127, 26-216, 
26-217, 26-219) write at: 

City Department of Buildings 
60 Hudson Street 
New York, NY 10013 
Tel: 212-312-8000 



Complaint Lines: 
Bronx 
Brooklyn 
Manhattan 
Queens 
Staten Island 



718-579-6906 

718-802-3681 

212-312-8529 

718-520-3402 

718-816-2211 



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Your Right to CRACK-FREE^ Walls, Ceilings and Floors 



Why are CRACKS in walls, floors, and ceilings dangerous? 

Cracks and other weaknesses in buildings are far too common in schools today. 1 he 
inherent danger in having cracks in walls is obvious: buildings should be solid, and 
building occupants should not have to worry about the ceiling falling down on them. A 
more subtle issue is the dust that results from broken walls. Dust and other small particles 
can make asthma and other breathing problems worse. Further, cracks in buildings 
provide openings through which pests can enter and find shelter to breed. The specific 
problems associated with pests will be discussed later in the guide. 

Where should you look for CRACKS? 

It is important to look for cracks not only on classroom walls, but on the ceiling and floor 
as well. Look inside the school building as well as at the exterior of the building. Cracks 
emerging from the building foundation and climbing up the outside walls are cause for 
major concerns. 

Are there laws about CRACKS in school buildings? 

Yes! New York State Education Law 409-d directs the Commissioner of Education to 
establish a school building safety program to determine the needs for repairs and 
reconstruction to maintain the structural integrity of school buildings. The Rules of the 
state of New York require the Board of Education to conduct a visual inspection of the 
walls, doors, and roofs of all school buildings for evidence of movement, deterioration 
and structural failure. If the visual inspection discloses evidence of possible defects, the 
school board must retain a licensed architect or professional engineer, who shall make a 
written report and submit it to the Commissioner with a claim for building aid. (8 
N.Y.C.R.R. 155.1(d)). Additionally, the Rules ofNew York City require periodic 
inspections of public buildings to detect fracturing and splitting in exterior walls, 
cracking of masonry and brick work in brick-faced buildings, or water entry into the 
walls. (Building Code, RCNY 32.03(b)(2)(v)). 

Who can you contact about CRACKS? 

* BOE Office of Environmental Health and Safety. 718-391-6475 (Contact your 
custodian before contacting this office so that you can be sure that the problem is not one 
the custodian can handle. They will investigate and take air quality samples if you are 
concerned about dust.) 



School Construction Authority, Facilities Inspection Division: 7 1 8-472-83 1 9 (if the 
school is currently under construction or renovation) or the School Construction 
Authority General Complaints number : 718-472-8052 (for construc./renov. issues) 

Office of School Facilities, Chief Executives Office, Pete Smith: 718-391-6466 



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Your Right to a Safe PLA YGROUND: 



Is there a right for children to have a PLAYGROUND at school? 

Children in school should have access to a playground; this is a right protected by New 
York City Health Code, which states that children cannot be kept in school for more than 
five hours without being given a recreation period during which the outdoor play space 
should be used whenever the weather permits. Another law states that no school may be 
constructed in New York City without being attached to an open-air playground. 

Why is PLAYGROUND safety important? 

Each year, in this country alone, over 200,000 children are injured in playgrounds 3 . It is 
important to monitor playgrounds so that the number of injuries can be decreased. If 
playgrounds are not surveyed for various hazards, the number and severity of playground 
related injuries can increase. 

How can you recognize a dangerous PLAYGROUND? 

There are four main things to consider when measuring how safe a playground is. 

• First, it is important that the playground equipment is age appropriate . Consider the 
size and difficulty of certain playground equipment. Young children have different 
physical abilities than older children and should not be playing on equipment that is 
meant for older children (such as horizontal ladders). 

• Second, look at the surfacing in the playground. The surface should break falls. 
Loose-fill or synthetic material such as wood chips or rubber matting is preferred. 
Cement is not acceptable because it does not have any give when a person falls on it. 
Dirt can be a problem because it can freeze in the winter. 

• Third, playgrounds should always be supervised . Children should not be permitted to 
play on the equipment without an adult there to monitor their activities. You should 
ask at the school to make sure that a school employee is with the children at all times 
when they go out to the playground. If you are a school employee this should be easy 
to monitor. 

• Last, take a visual survey of the playground and look at how well maintained it is. 
Look to see if there is any broken equipment, how close the playground is to traffic, 
and if there is any trash on the premises. 

Are there laws pertaining to PLAYGROUNDS and PLAYGROUND SAFETY? 

Yes! New York State Education Law Section 2556(5) mandates that no school can be 
constructed in New York City without being attached to an open-air playground. State 
Regulation 8 N.Y.C.R.R 155.1 (c)(1) sets the minimum of three acres for an elementary 
school’s outside recreation area and ten acres for a high school’s. 24 RCNY 45.1 1 and 



3 The National Program for Playground Safety, “National Action Plan for the Prevention of Playground 
Injuries,” September 1996 



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45.13 outline the need for outdoor play areas and the type of equipment to which children 
should have access. New York City Health Code Section 49.13 says that children cannot 
be kept at school for more than five hours without being given a recreation period during 
which the outdoor play space should be used whenever the weather permits. New York 
City Health Code Section 45.1 1 says that that outdoor play area should t“, “safe, clean, 
easily accessible adequate in size and suitable for the needs of the children.” It also says 
that a shady area should be available during the summer months. Section 45.13 of the 
Health Code says that sufficient play equipment should be provided and that the provided 
equipment should be appropriate to the stage of development of the children. It also says 
that the equipment should be clean, readily washable, in good repair, and free from 
hazards. 

Who can you contact if your PLAYGROUND is not safe? 

Office of School Facilities, Chief Executives Office, Pete Smith : 718-391-6466 
Some playgrounds are maintained jointly between the Board of Education and the New 
York City Parks Department. If your playground is one of these, than you should contact 
the Parks Department in addition to contacting the Office of School Facilities. 



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Your Right to USABLE^ and_ SANITAR ¥ BA THROOMS: 



What should a USABLE BATHROOM look like? 

Usable bathrooms are important for all of the obvious sanitary and health reasons. When 
a bathroom has broken toilets or urinals it is unusable. If the sink faucets don’t work or 
there is no soap, that is unsanitary. Stalls lacking doors, overflowing toilets, and the 
absence of toilet paper all are indicators of an unusable or unsanitary bathroom. There 
should be an adequate number of bathrooms in the school given the number of children 
that attend. Separate boys’ and girls’ bathrooms should exist as well. Usable and 
sanitary bathrooms should be ample in number, well stocked with toilet paper and other 
necessities, clean, and well maintained. In addition there should be bathrooms that are 
barrier free so that children with handicapping conditions are accommodated. 

In order to find out if your child’s school has usable and sanitary bathrooms, either ask 
your child what the bathroom is like or go to the school and check for yourself. If you’re 
a school employee, you should know from personal experience or by looking around the 
student’s bathrooms whether or not the school’s bathrooms are usable and sanitary. 

Are there laws about USABLE and SANITARY Bathrooms? 

Yes! There is State Education law on toilets and restroom facilities for children. State 
regulation 8 N.Y.C.R.R. 155.1(b)(4)(ii) says that bathrooms should have an adequate 
number of toilets. 

There are several sections of the New York City Health Code that set standards for 
bathrooms in schools. Section 49.07 says that all schools should have at least two wash 
basins (sinks), and that schools with more than 300 children should have at least six wash 
basins, and an additional basin for every 100 additional children. Section 45.1 1 says that 
there should be separate bathrooms for boys and girls over six years of age and that 
toilets in these bathrooms must be separated by a partition that is at least five feet six 
inches high. Section 45.1 1 also says that wash basins should have both hot and cold 
water. For new schools, section 45.1 1 provides that there should be separate bathrooms 
for school employees. Section 45.13 states that all bathrooms should be supplied with 
soap and either paper towels or hand dryers. According to 45.13, these items should be 
near the sinks. 



Who can you contact if you do not have a USABLE or SANITARY Bathroom? 

Office of School Facilities, Chief Executives Office, Pete Smith: 718-391-6466 
Department of Health General Complaints Hotline: 212-442-9666 




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Your Right to a PEST-free School: 



Why are PESTS bad? 

The most obvious reason why schools should be pest free, is that rodents, insects and 
other pests can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. However rodents, 
insects and other pests can be harmful in other ways as well. They can cause or worsen 
allergies, in addition to causing or making worse an asthma condition. 

How can you recognize PEST problems? 

Pest problems are most easily detected visually. Ask your child if he or she has ever seen 
a pest in school, or if you are a school employee, look around for yourself and also ask 
the children and other employees. If rodent(s) or insect(s) or their droppings have been 
sighted inside of school, the school has a pest problem. 

If pests are seen near or on school grounds, an inspection should be made to make sure 
that the school is not infested and caution should be taken to prevent infestation in the 
future. 

Are there laws about PESTS in schools? 

Yes! Section 151.03 of the New York City Health Code says that all buildings must be 
kept free from conditions that might lead to infestations and that if a building is infested, 
immediate action by the person in control should be taken to get rid of the pest 
infestation. Also see next page on pesticide-free schools. 

Who can you contact about PEST problems in school? 

* State Department of Labor (overseas public employee safety rules, including airborne 
chemical toxins which can include pesticides; investigates complaints; should be 
contacted by a public school employee and not by a parent or guardian). Write to, New 
York City District, 345 Hudson Street, Mail Stop 7F PO Box 683, New York, NY 10014, 
or call, Tel. (212) 352-6132 or Fax (212) 352-6138 

*NYC BOE Division of School, Food and Nutrition Services : 718-729-6100 (will 
investigate problems related to the cafeteria) 

NYC DOH : 212-442-1999 (We tried calling this number, but were unable to reach 
anybody) 

NYS DOH Environmental Health Infoline: 1-800-458-1158 x27820 (will picv-ir 
information and will investigate) 



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Your Right to a PESTICIDE-free School 



Why can PESTICIDES be bad? 

Pesticides are often used for ridding buildings and areas of rodents, insects, and other 
pests. But they only work temporarily and need to be re-applied. However, the poisons 
found in pesticides may harm more than the pests. Pesticides can be absorbed through 
the skin, inhaled, or swallowed by humans. Children already have proportionately more 
pesticide exposures than adults and pesticides have been linked to certain cancers, 
damage to the central nervous system, neurological and behavior problems, as well as 
acute poisoning. No pesticides have been tested specifically for safety around children or 
in combination with other chemicals. 

Pesticides can temporarily control or eliminate pests that are obviously dangerous to your 
child, but clearly they bring their own dangers. There are easy, inexpensive ways of 
ridding schools of pests that are both less dangerous and more permanent than pesticides, 
such as caulking and screening, cleaning up spills and food waste, or confining food to 
only certain areas. These methods are called non-toxic pest management. If pesticides are 
still required, then a state-certified pesticide applicator should use only the least-toxic 
product that will work. If pesticides must be used, they should be used in a way that 
would minimize the harmful effects. Important ways schools can use to protect children 
and others from pesticides are to tell people in advance of pesticide use, post signs in 
treated areas, keep children away from areas where pesticides have been applied, and 
have only a certified applicator who is at least 21 years old apply pesticides at school. 

How can you recognize PESTICIDE problems? 

Pesticides are typically not visible after they have been applied. Whether your school has 
a pest problem or not, you (if you’re a school employee) or your child may still be at risk 
of pesticide exposure because pesticides can be used preventatively as well. The best 
way to find out if pesticides are used is to ask someone — start with the principal, 
custodian or a member of the School Leadership Team (or the union rep if you're a 
school employee). Some people react physically to pesticides with flu like symptoms, 
headaches, rashes, nausea and tiredness. Remember to ask about pesticide use not just in 
the school, but outside as well — such as in the playground or on any grassy areas nearby. 
If you find out that pesticides were used, think about where they were laid down and 
when. Was school in session at the time? Is it an area that kids often go to? Was there a 
good alternative to the use of the pesticide? 

Are there laws about PESTICIDE use in schools? 

Not specifically. The only law that even peripherally addresses pesticide use is the PESH 
air quality law discussed earlier. PESH can apply to pesticides as well, in that pesticides 
can be air-borne and can thus affect the air quality of schools. 




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Approximately 30 other states have some school-pesticide regulations, including at least 
four that require schools to reduce pesticide use. The New York State Education 
Department has recommended that all schools reduce their use of toxic pesticides, as has 
the NYS Attorney General. 

Schools must follow applicable federal and state laws since schools are considered 
'commerical' application sites for pesticides. For example, schools must have a certified 
applicator 'on site' during an application of pesticides, but not necessarily performing the 
application; schools must keep copies of the labels of pesticide products used, and places 
of application must be posted. All schools must be in compliance with the OSHA Hazard 
Communication Act and New York State Right to Know laws on hazardous substances. 



Who can you contact about PESTICIDE problems in school? 

* State Department of Labor (overseas public employee safety rules, including airborne 
chemical toxins which can include pesticides; investigates complaints; should be 
contacted by a public school employee and not by a parent or guardian) 

New York City District 
345 Hudson Street 
Mail Stop 7F PO Box 683 
New York, NY 10014 
Tel. (212) 352-6132 
Fax (212)352-6138 

*NYC BOE Division of School, Food and Nutrition Services : 718-729-6100 (will 
investigate problems related to the cafeteria; also operates a voluntary nontoxic pest 
management program for City schools) 

NYC DOH: 212-442-1999 (We tried calling this number, but were unable to reach 
anyone) 

NYS DOH Environmental Health Infoline: 1-800-458-1 158 x27820 (will provide 
information and will investigate) 

Healthy Schools Network, Inc. 518-462-0632 (literature and guides including Children, 
Learning and Poisons Don't Mix: Kick the Pesticide Habit, Factsheet on Right to Know, 
packet on Integrated Pest Management in Schools, What to do if your child has an 
environmental exposure at school, and more.) 




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Your Right to Infonttation about the SCHOOL BUILDING: 



You have a right to information about your school buildings and grounds. Records and 
reports about the conditions of the buildings, copies of Certificates of Occupancy, Fire 
Safety Inspections, Emergency Management Plans, AHERA reports, and many other 
documents are public documents. 

In addition, under chapters 56 and 58 of the laws of 1998 amending part 155 of the New 
York State Education law, the NYS Commissioner of Education will require all districts 
to have five year building condition surveys, annual visual inspections, monitoring 
systems for facility conditions, health and safety committees on which parents may serve, 
and Facility Report Cards. The Facility Report Cards will cover many topics, including 
age of the building, square footage, enrollment and capacity, heating plant, activities of 
the Health and Safety Committee, written preventive maintenance plan, whether the 
building has an air quality management plan, or an Integrated Pest Management plan to 
reduce pesticide use. These regulations take effect October 1999. Schools must comply 
by January 2001 or sooner. 




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Appendix A: 

Sample Complaint Letters 




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SAMPLE COMPLAINT LETTERS 



The following are samples of what letters to one of the contact agencies could look like. 
Feel free to copy it word for word, filling in the blanks so that it applies to your specific 
situation, to use it as guide for your own letter, or simply to use it as a way of knowing 
what to say when you call someone. It is important to include information such as when, 
where, and what you saw, whatever it was that made you concerned. The more 
information you provide, the easier it will be to fix the problem. However, just because 
you don ’t know or don 7 remember every detail, doesn 7 mean that you shouldn 7 report 
it or that it won 7 be fixed. 

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** 

Your Name 
Your Address 
Your City, State, Zip 
Your Phone Number 

Person you are contacting 
Address of Person 
Person’s City, State, Zip 

Today’s Date 

Dear Person/Organization/ Agency that will help me with my problem: 

My child is a student at in district • 

When I visited my child’s school on ( write date of incident) I 

became concerned that my child’s health might be at risk in school because I noticed 



( Explain what you or you child saw that you think could affect your child s health, for 
example: mold, pests, peeling paint, something that might be asbestos, a lack of fire 

extinguishers, etc.). I understand that this violates 

(If a law was mentioned in the guide that addresses what you saw, list it here, for 
example: New York City Health Code 45.11, the State Education Law Section 409, etc.). 
What can be done to remedy this situation? I am not happy that my child is being 

exposed to this condition. Please call me . (write your number 

here) between the hours of (write the hours that you are 

available) or write me at the above address and tell me how and when this problem is 
going to be resolved. 

Thank you for your time and help. 



Sincerely, 



Your Name 




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Your Name 
Your Address 
Your City, State, Zip 
Your Phone Number 

Person You’re Contacting 
Address of Person 
Person’s City, State, Zip 

Today’s Date 

Dear Person/Organization/Agency that will help me with my problem: 

My child is a student at in district 

My child has (fill in the health problem that your child has, for 

example: asthma, sore throats, nausea, etc.) and I’m concerned that there is a condition 
in the school that brought on the problem or is causing the problem to get worse. My 

child told me she/he noticed 

at 

school. (Explain what you saw that you think could affect your child ’s health, for 
example: toxic fumes, dust, mold, etc.) and that made me concerned about 



(feel free to fill in with one of the categories from 

the guide, for example: the school 's air quality, the possibility of a pest' infestation, etc.). 

I believe that this problem is in violation of (If a law was 

mentioned in the guide that addresses what you saw, list it here, for example: New York 
City Health Code 45.11, the State Education Law Section 409, etc.). What can be done to 
remedy this situation? I am not happy that my child is being subjected to this condition. 

Please call me (write your number here) between the hours of 

(write the hours that you are available) or write me at the 

above address and tell me how and when this problem is going to be resolved. 

Thank you for your time and help. 



Sincerely, 



Your Name 



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Your Name 
Your Address 
Your City, State, Zip 
Your Phone Number 



Person You’re Contacting 
Address of Person 
Person’s City, State, Zip 

Today’s Date 

Dear Person/Organization/Agency that will help me with my problem: 

I am a school employee at in district • 

Since (insert date that problem began or you first began to notice 

problem) I have been experiencing 

(fill in health problem: for example: asthma, sore throats, 

nausea, runny nose). I’m concerned that there is a condition in school that brought on this 
problem or is causing the problem to get worse. Specifically, I’ve noticed 

around school. {Explain what you saw that you think could have affected your health, for 
example: toxic fumes, dust, mold, etc.) and that made me concerned about 

( feel free to fill in with one of the categories from 

the guide, for example: the school’s air quality, the possibility of a pest infestation, etc.). 

I believe that this problem is in violation of {If a law was 

mentioned in the guide that addresses what you saw, list it here, for example: New York 
City Health Code 45.11, the State Education Law Section 409, etc.). What can be done to 
remedy this situation? I am not happy that I am being subjected to this condition. Please 

call me {write your number here) between the hours of 

{write the hours that you are available) or write me at the 

above address and tell me how and when this problem is going to be resolved. 

Thank you for your time and help. 



Sincerely. 



Your Name 



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Your Name 
Your Address 
Your City, State, Zip 
Your Phone Number 

Person You’re Contacting 
Address of Person 
Person’s City, State, Zip 

Today’s Date 

Dear Person/Organization/Agency that will help me with my problem: 

I am a school employee at in district . 

While walking into a classroom on . ( write date of incident ) I 

became concerned that both my and some of the students’ health might be at risk in 
school because I noticed 



{Explain what you saw that you think could affect your or the health of a student, for 
example: mold, pests, peeling paint, something that might be asbestos, a lack of fire 

extinguishers, etc.). I understand that this violates 

{If a law was mentioned in the guide that addresses what you saw, list it here, for 
example: New York City Health Code 45.11, the State Education Law Section 409, etc.). 
What can be done to remedy this situation? I am not happy that both me and my students 

are being exposed to this condition. Please call me {write your 

number here) between the hours of {write the hours that you 

are available) or write me at the above address and tell me how and when this problem is 
going to be resolved. 

Thank you for your time and help. 



Sincerely, 



Your Name 




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Appendix B: 

Further Affirmative Steps 



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Affirmative steps you can take to make your school safer and healthier: 

Contact the Environmental Protection Agency: call either Matt Heister at 212-637- 
4003 or Jean Feola at 212-637-4025 to find out how to bring the Indoor Air Quality 
Tools for Schools program to your school. 

Contact the Department of Health: Call 212-676-2491 to find out about the 
Department’s Open Airways for Schools program that teaches third graders about 
asthma and how to bring the program to your school. 

Contact the Healthy Schools Network, Inc. at 518-462-0632 to find out more about 
creating a healthier school for you and or your child. Publications include guides on air 
quality, lead, pesticides, nontoxic custodial products, health & safety committees, and 
many other topics. 

Contact Advocates for Children of New York, Inc. at 212-947-9779 if you are having 
any school based problems in New York City. Our receptionist will inform you of our 
intake and hotline hours or send you to our information specialist if you are interested in 
written materials or workshops or trainings. AFC coordinates the NYC Healthy Schools 
Working Group on behalf of the Healthy Schools Network, Inc. 

Take Personal Action: Get involved! If you’re a parent or a student join your school’s 
Leadership Team or for parents, join the Parents’ Association. If you re a school 
employee, you can join the School Leadership Team or go to your school’s union 
representative (better yet, become the representative!). Remember, action is the only way 
to bring about positive change. 




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Appendix C: 

Congressional Contact Information 



Politicians to Contact 



You can contact your legislators about environmental and health problems in your 
school. Below are your federal legislators, though you can contact state and city officials 

as well. 

Senator Daniel P. Moynihan 



Washington office 

464 Russell Senate Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20510 

202-224-4451 

senatorfa),dpm. senate. eov 


District office 

405 Lexington Avenue, #4101, 
New York, NY, 10174 
212-661-5150 


Senator Charles Schumer 

Washington office 

229 Dirksen Senate Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20510 

202-224-6542 

Web site 

httD://www.senate.eov/~schumer/ 


District office 

26 Federal Plaza, Suite 31-100 
New York, NY, 10278 
212-486-4430 


Rep. Michael Forbes 

First Congressional District 

Washington office 

416 Cannon House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-3826 


District office 

1500 William Floyd Pkwy., #303, 
Shirley, NY, 11967 
516-345-9000 


Rep. Rick A. Lazio 

Second Congressional District 

Washington office 

2444 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-3335 

lazio(2).hr.house.eov 


District office 
126 W. Main Street, 
Babylon, NY, 11702 
516-893-9010 


Rep. Peter T. King 

Third Congressional District 
Washington office 
403 Cannon House Office Building 
Washington, D.C., 20515 


District office 
1003 Park Blvd., 

Massapequa Park, NY, 11762 



516-541-4225 



202-225-7896 

peter.king@mail.house.gov 



Rep. Carolyn McCarthy 
Fourth Congressional District 
Washington office 

1725 Longworth House Office Building 
Washington, D.C., 20515 
202-225-5516 5 



District office 
1 Fulton Avenue, 
Hampstead, NY, 11550 
516-489-7066 



Rep. Gary L. Ackerman 

Fifth Congressional District 

Washington office 

2243 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-2601 



District office 
218-14 Northern Blvd., 
Bayside, NY, 11361 
718-423-2154 



Rep. Gregory Meeks 
Sixth Congressional District 
Washington office 

1035 Longworth House Office Building 
Washington, D.C., 20515 
202-225-3461 



District office 
196-06 Linden Blvd., 
St. Albans, NY, 11412 
718-849-5600 



Rep. Joseph Crowley 
Seventh Congressional District 
Washington office 

1517 Longworth House Office Building 
Washington, D.C., 20515 
202-225-3965 

http://www.house.gov/writerep/ 



District office 

82-1 1 37th Avenue, Suite 607 
Jackson Heights, NY, 1 1372 
718-779-1400 



Rep. Jerrold Nadler 

Eighth Congressional District 

Washington office 

2448 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-5635 

nita.lowev@mail.house 



District office 
1841 Broadway, No. 800, 
New York, NY, 10023 
212-489-3530 



Rep. Anthony Weiner 
Ninth Congressional District 




39 



36 



Washington office District office 

501 Cannon House Office Building • ' / '* 1901 Emfhons Avenue, 

Washington, D.C., 20515 Brooklyn, NY, 1 1235 

202-225-6616 718-332-9001 

http://wmv.house.gov/writerep/ 



Rep. Edolphus Towns 

Tenth Congressional District 

Washington office 

2232 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-5936 

khalil.munir@mail.house.gov 



District office 

545 Broadway, No. 200, 
Brooklyn, NY, 11206 
718-387-8696 



Rep. Major R. Owens 

Eleventh Congressional District 

Washington office 

2305 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-6231 

iacqueline.ellis@mail.house.gov 



District office 

289 Utica Avenue, 
Brooklyn, NY, 11213 
718-773-3100 



Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez 
_12th Congressional District 
Washington office 

1221 Longworth House Office Building 
Washington, D.C., 20515 
202-225-2361 

luis.rosero@mail.house.gov 



District office 
815 Broadway, 

New York City, NY, 11206 
718-599-3658 



Rep. Vito J. Fossella 

13th Congressional District 

Washington office 

241 1 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-3371 



District office 
14 New Dorp Lane, 
Staten Island, NY, 10306 
718-987-8400 



Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney 
14th Congressional District 
Washington office 

1330 Longworth House Office Building 
Washington, D.C., 20515 
202-225-7944 

rep.carolvn.malonev@mail.house.gov 



District office 
1 10 E. 59th St., 2nd floor, 
New York, NY, 10022 
212-832-6531 




40 



37 



Rep. Charles B. Rangel 

15th Congressional District 

Washington office 

2354 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-4365 

rangel@hr.house.gov 

Rep. Jose E. Serrano 

16th Congressional District 

Washington office 

2342 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-4361 

iserrano@hr.house.gov 



District office 
163 W. 125th St., 

New York, NY, 10027 
212-663-3900 



District office 
890 Grand Concourse, 
Bronx, NY, 10451 
718-538-5400 



Rep. Eliot L. Engel 

17th Congressional District 

Washington office 

2303 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-2464 



District office 
3655 Johnson Avenue, 
Bronx, NY, 10463 
718-796-9700 



engeline@hr.house.gov 

Rep. Nita M. Lowey 

18th Congressional District 

Washington office 

2421 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-6506 

nita.lowev@mail.house.gov 



District office 

222 Mamaroneck Avenue, 
White Plains, NY, 10605 
914-428-1707 



Rep. Sue Kelly 

19th Congressional District 

Washington office 

1222 Longworth House Office Building 
Washington, D.C., 20515 
202-225-5441 
dearsue@hr.house.gov 



District office 
21 Old Main St., No. 205, 
Fishkill, NY, 12524 
914-897-5200 



Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman 
20th Congressional District 
Washington oftic*. 

2449 Rayburn House Office Building 
Washington, D.C., 20515 
202-225-3776 
ben@mail.house.gov 

Rep. Michael R. McNulty 

2 1 st Congressional District 

Washington office 

2161 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-5076 

mike.mcnultv@mail.house.gov 

Rep. John Sweeney 

22nd Congressional District 

Washington office 

437 Cannon House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-5614 

http://www.house.gov/writerep/ 

Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert 

23rd Congressional District 

Washington office 

2246 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-3665 

rep.boehlert@mail.house.gov 

Rep. John M. McHugh 

24th Congressional District 

Washington office 

2441 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C., 20515 

202-225-4611 

http://www.house.gov/writerep/ 



i»»3trict office 
407 £. Main St., 
Middletown, NY, 10940 
914-343-6666 



District office 

U.S. Post Office, Jay St., 
Schenectady, NY, 12305 
518-374-4547 



District office 
285 Broadway, 

Saratoga Springs, NY, 12866 
518-587-9800 



District office 
10 Broad Street, Room 200, 
Utica, NY, 13501-1270 
315-793-8146 



District office 
404 Key Bank Building, 
200 Washington Street 
Watertown, NY, 13601 
315-782-3150 




42 



39 




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