Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Heberle parents demand information


School board unsure where kids will go this fall

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

About 60 parents and students from a lead-paint-contaminated school turned out at a Cincinnati school board meeting Monday to chastise officials for not informing them where their children will be attending school in less than two months.

In April, more than 500 students were forced to move from Heberle Elementary to the vacant Porter Elementary after lead paint hazards were found at Heberle, a West End school.

"The lack of communication between Cincinnati Public Schools and Heberle parents has forced us to rely on hearsay as to the future of our children," said parent Carlean Chalk, a West End resident. "This must not continue."

Schools officials determined the cost to clean and treat Heberle could reach $1.5 million.

The school was slated to close permanently around 2009 as part of the district's $1 billion reconstruction project, but district officials considered closing the school sooner rather than pay to clear Heberle of lead paint hazards.

Parents say they are hearing rumors that their children will be moved to schools throughout Cincinnati, but they have heard nothing concrete from the district.

Alicia Benton-Clark, another Heberle parent, said parents have heard little from the board or the superintendent.

"I'm here to tell the board they need more parental involvement," she said. "Every decision they're making is under the table."

Superintendent Alton Frailey addressed the group during the board meeting, telling them the district is meeting with health department officials next week to determine what would be required to treat Heberle.

"I do understand the parents' concern and frustration," he said. "But to say that we have not been talking with parents is incorrect."

He added that his staff and health officials have met with parents several times.

Frailey said school officials don't know where the students will be relocated for the beginning of the school year. He did debunk a rumor that students will attend school in the basement of Woodward High School.

"Our desire is to get the students back to Heberle, if at all possible," he said.

In addition to Heberle, 22 Cincinnati school buildings are being treated for possible lead paint hazards.

Work on the estimated $5.5 million project is expected to be complete before schools reopen Aug. 21.

---

E-mail jmrozowski@enquirer.com




ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Howard: Some good news
Korte: Inside City Hall
Pulfer: The ambassador

SCOTUS RULING: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Court upholds principle, strikes down quotas
Local colleges step up minority recruiting
Local college-bound teens divided on vote
Tristate: Race matters
Putting the court's ruling into context
Bush: Diversity, not quotas, won
Excerpts from the court's two cases
Editorial: For the good of diversity
Guest column: Colleges face new confusion with court's guidelines
Local voices: Affirmative action ruling

TRISTATE HEADLINES
Reserves receive hero's welcome
Butler Co. closer to relief from flooding
Fairfield can't stand the rain
Taxpayers stuck with Kroger's $15M bill
Mercedes-Benz looking at West Chester
2 motorcyclists die, another hurt in wrecks
Heberle parents demand information
School teams to be split up
Scholarship winners want to help others
CPS unveils two new designs
Calling all canoeists: Prove your skills at Paddlefest
West Chester committee urges recreation levy
Police sort information on river deaths
Parents who owe support offered catch-up chance
Death-row inmate asks for new trial
Obituary: Mary Louise Schum won design awards
Tristate A.M. report

KENTUCKY
Development of Ft. Mitchell farm OK'd
NKU grant may spur more health centers at schools
Video shows off city quirks
Needy parents on long waiting list for state child-care benefits
Ky. educators weigh state, federal testing at schools