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MLA Myers calling for Grimmer resignation, public apology to families students


Published on July 17, 2017

Exterior of the former English Language School board

©Millicent McKay/Journal Pioneer

Since July 5, education critic Steven Myers has been releasing emails made by Parker Grimmer on social media, the most recent about breaches in protocol for asbestos abatement and lead paint removal during renovations at Three Oaks Senior High in Summerside.

Myers received access to the emails after filing a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy request.

In a post on July 11, on Facebook, Myers said he was stunned.

In a recent interview he added, “There were three separate breaches that occurred in March. The fact that there were three is concerning. They deliberately didn’t tell anyone. Asbestos is an airborne hazard so to have the students and the teachers on that site and so close by, put them at additional risk.”

In Grimmer’s email, it informed government lawyer Susan Willis of the breaches, saying, “There were the three breaches by workers who did not follow proper protocols. While Chris (Keefe) feels the exposures in these cases are low and hopefully the risk to students and staff is also low, it will be an issue that needs to be communicated to TOSH staff, and at some point in the near future, someone will likely need to communicate theses events to others also.”

Myers says attitudes toward the risk were irresponsible.

“That’s extremely careless for somebody who has the responsibility to take care of the public school systems.”

Since the release, Myers has sent a letter to the premier calling for Grimmer’s resignation.

“I believe the families deserve a public report and that the government should bring in an expert as well as apologizing to Islanders, students and staff about this incident. Why they didn’t tell the parents and why they didn’t tell the staff if beyond me.”

A statement from department of education’s media relations contact said, “There were a couple of breaches in abatement protocol very early in the construction process involving the removal of lead-based paint and the removal of asbestos containing ceiling tiles (one per cent to three per cent). As soon as the issues were identified, work stopped, the areas were shut down, and the WCB was notified.”

Those areas were then cleaned according to proper protocol and reopened shortly after once all air and dust samples came back clean, the statement continued.

“The construction was at the east end of the school in the former English Language School Board areas, away from students and staff. There was no need to communicate with parents as students and teachers were not permitted in the area, and were not deemed at risk.”

However, there was custodial staff that had been in the area, and meetings were held to explain what happened and update them on new protocols to prevent future breeches.

It ended, “An email was issued to all TOSH staff advising them of what happened.”