An intergovernmental pilot project began last week to address potential environmental health hazards in Southern California schools, with LAUSD as the only school district involved as a core particpant.
The six month pilot program, known as the Southern California – Clean, Green and Healthy Schools Partnership, is intended to foster collaboration among local, state and federal regulators — including school districts — on environmental health issues that had been unaddressed because of red tape and jurisdictional conflicts.
John Sterritt, LA Unified’s director of Environmental Health and Safety, told LA School Report that when a health hazard arose in the past, whether at a school or on adjacent property, the district and local officials often didn’t know who was responsible.
“The formation of this functional working group will allow us to solve some of the bureaucratic questions by getting everyone around the same table,” said Sterrit. He added that the idea for the working group stemmed from a 10-year partnership with the Southern California Department of Toxic Substances Control.
Thomas Cota, chief of the department, agreed that the pilot program will expedite the identification process, but added that it should also enhance transparency by engaging the local community in the process.
“We wanted to develop a system for the community to bring us issues they’re concerned about so that we can triage the problem and decide how best to fix it,” Cota told LA School Report. Cota is encouraging anyone with health hazard tips or neighborhood complaints to email the working group at firstname.lastname@example.org.