Einstein’s Village de l’Est campus closed because of asbestos concerns

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Einstein Charter School’s Village de l’Est campus is closed for two days because asbestos fibers have been found inside the school, Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard announced Tuesday morning.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality received an anonymous tip alleging that Dynamic Constructors may have improperly removed and disposed of asbestos ceiling tiles in the building last summer.

Chuck Carr Brown, secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality, wrote in a Monday letter that “asbestos fibers were present in 13 of the 15 dust samples tested.”

Dobard said he had closed the school, which serves pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, as a precaution. The Recovery School District controls the school buildings, although they’re owned by the Orleans Parish School Board. The contractor was hired by RSD.

He acknowledged the 13 positive tests in a Tuesday letter to the environmental agency. However, he noted that “only one of the 13 samples tested positively for the type of asbestos found in the ceiling tiles in question.”

Those findings are preliminary, he wrote, “and provide no indication” of whether the concentration is high enough to prevent the school from being used. The presence of asbestos in dust on “high, flat surfaces” doesn’t mean it’s airborne, he wrote.

Asbestos fibers would have to be airborne and above a certain concentration to be dangerous, RSD officials said Tuesday.

The Recovery School District is testing the air in the school and will have those results by Wednesday, Dobard said in the letter.  The other 25 dust samples also should be tested by Wednesday.

After the tiles were removed in late May and early June, district officials said air tests cleared the building for occupancy.

In the past couple weeks, however, the construction company hasn’t been able to verify that it disposed of tiles properly, district officials said.

The same contractor is working at Lusher Charter School. Lusher did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dynamic Constructors didn’t respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday morning.

Students at Einstein’s Village de l’Est campus may attend school at another location Wednesday, but that decision hasn’t been made.

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