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Profile: Stuyvesant High School

Stuyvesant High School was a participant or observer in the following events:

Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, (BMCC), located four blocks from the World Trade Center site, reopens its campus. (Guardian 10/4/2001; Williams and Worth 12/19/2005) The school is the only school that was damaged as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Center. When 7 World Trade Center collapsed, the south face of the recently renovated Fiterman Hall was destroyed. The 15-story building housed 40 classrooms, computer labs, and three floors that the college rented to private companies. The remaining portion of the school—designed to hold no more than 8,000 students—must now accommodate some 17,000. The attacks have put a tremendous strain on BMCC’s finances. The damage is estimated to be about $11.5 million. Additionally, the school will lose about $1.1 million in lost lease revenue. The school’s financial problems are compounded by the fact that $9.7 million is set to be cut from next year’s CUNY budget. (Williams and Worth 12/19/2005) Shortly after returning to school, students and teachers will complain about ailments such as acquired asthma, upper-respiratory disease, chronic headaches, and itchy eyes and skin believed to be caused by air contamination that resulted from the WTC collapse and made worse by the continuing fire plume. Despite the college’s long list of problems, the media and city government will pay little attention to the school, whose student body is largely low-income people of color. Instead, the focus will be on Stuyvesant High School, an elite public school, which suffered no direct damages on September 11. By December, more than $1 million will be spent on environmental cleanup at Stuyvesant compared to only $75,000 at BMCC. (Williams and Worth 12/19/2005)

The decision to reopen Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan is made based on tests of indoor air samples taken by the EPA. Two EPA “On Scene-Coordinators” (OSCs) (see (8:50 a.m. EST) September 11, 2001) are present at the meeting and participate in the decision-making. One of the OSCs is Charlie Fitzsimmons. (Environmental Protection Agency National Ombudsman 3/27/2002)

On October 9, students of Stuyvesant High School, an elite public school known for its rigorous math and science curriculum and ethnic diversity, return to class. (Associated Press 10/19/2001; Roth 10/26/2001) The two EPA On-Scene Coordinators (OSC) who took part in the decision to re-open the school (see October 5, 2001) are present for the re-opening. (Environmental Protection Agency National Ombudsman 3/27/2002) The school is located four blocks north of the WTC site and is downwind from its smoke plume. It is also adjacent to where debris is being loaded from uncovered trucks—some 350 per day—onto barges around the clock. A week after re-opening the school, approximately 100 of the high school’s 3,200 students and teachers complain of respiratory difficulty, mysterious headaches, nausea, sore throats, and nosebleeds. Some students wear respirators to school to protect themselves. (Associated Press 10/19/2001; Roth 10/26/2001; Gittrich 11/1/2001; Gonzalez 12/20/2001)

The Stuyvesant High School Parents’ Association holds a meeting to address concerns about health and safety conditions at the school. People attending the meeting complain that the Board of Education has failed to address a number of issues. Other topics that are discussed at the meeting include symptoms of illness among the students, tests showing an elevated level of particulates, and evidence that information publicly disclosed by the EPA does not reveal the actual levels of contaminants around Ground Zero. (Stuyvesant High School Parents' Association 11/13/2001; Gonzalez 12/20/2001)

The Environmental Protection Agency outside air monitoring station at Stuyvesant High School records an asbestos level of 124 fibers per square millimeter, which significantly exceeds acceptable background levels. (Gonzalez 12/20/2001)

Dr. David O. Carpenter from the School of Public Health at the University of Albany concludes in a detailed study that the Stuyvesant High School building “has not yet been proven safe.” (Environmental Protection Agency National Ombudsman 3/27/2002)

New York City School Board member Irving Hamer Jr. recommends that Stuyvesant High School’s air ducts be cleaned during its spring break beginning March 28, 2002. (Environmental Protection Agency National Ombudsman 3/27/2002)

An environmental engineer tests Stuyvesant High School’s carpets and fabrics for contamination using the ultrasonication method and finds an extremely high concentration of 60,000 to 2.5 million structures of asbestos per square centimeter in the school’s carpets. The Department of Education claims the results are “inconclusive.” (H.A. Bader Consultants 8/2/2002 pdf file; Jenkins 8/29/2002 pdf file; Kupferman 2003 pdf file)


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