The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires schools to certify that they comply with the requirement to allow students attending a violent or "Persistently Dangerous School" to transfer to a safe school. (See the reference to federal guidance below.)

Proposed expanded definition:

"is a school that poses a threat to a child's
health and safety when anyone creates or
ignores biological, chemical, physical or
structural conditions and/or activities that
cause or have the potential to cause illness
or injury to any child or other school


"Students and school staff have the right to a
clean, well-ventilated and well-maintained school
environment, free of biological, chemical, physical
or structural conditions or activities that harm them
or have the potential to cause illness or injury.

Furthermore, no school official should force or
coerce a child's or employee's attendance or
occupancy where 1) there are risks to health and
safety (as perceived by the student, employee or
parent) such as inadequate ventilation, poor
sanitation, poor hygiene, air contaminants, leaks,
dampness, or moisture intrusion, or unsafe
equipment or supplies; or 2) the child, employee or
other occupant believes his or her symptoms are
related to a location or activity.

Furthermore, all employees of state and local
education agencies share the duty to safeguard all
students and employees from health-related
hazards and disruption to their education or


Just as violence or fear of violence interferes with a
child's safety, sense of security at school and
learning, school health hazards are barriers to
learning and attendance. These barriers to health
and security make the school inaccessible and
unusable and therefore, while endangering all
students, discriminate against health-impaired
students and employees.


All states should include, in the definition of
"persistently dangerous schools," the following
precautions, standards, school official
responsibilities, and parent and employee rights as
defined herein.

School officials fulfill their duty to protect students
and employees from illness, injury and all health-
related barriers to their education or employment,

1) Precautionary Action: designing and maintaining
a standard for all facility conditions and operations
and in all educational locations and activities that
protect all occupants, but especially health-
impaired and other vulnerable students, from
illness, injury or death

2) Secondary Action: responding immediately to
any report, verbal or written, of conditions or
activities that have the potential to cause or
exacerbate any child's or adult's illness, injury, or

2a) Simultaneously: by immediately taking children
and adults out of harm's way to a safe location,

2b) Immediately stopping and correcting the
conditions or activities, before the area is re-

2c) Notification: As the school nurse or principal
does for incidents of head lice or scabies,
chickenpox, strep throat, head injury, etc., the
school nurse or school principal will notify all
parents in writing of an exposure incident, unsafe
condition or activity, or hazard, the observed or
potential symptoms of the exposure, any signs or
symptoms to watch for, the actions taken by
specified school personnel, and recommendations
for follow up.

2d) Respecting the standard of the "prudent
parent," by providing, on request, alternative
instruction and/or placement in an equal (and
medically appropriate, per parent/child's physician)
educational program, at the expense of the local
school agency (LEA), when a parent or a child's
physician judges that a condition or activity in the
school has the potential to cause or has caused
illness, injury or disruption of learning.

2e) Reimbursing a parent or group of parents for
any out-of-pocket expenses they incur for medical
or educational expenses, due to a school official's
resistance or failure to implement the precautions
necessary to protect and safeguard a child's health
and education.

3) The school must keep logs of health complaints
and records of all health, safety and structural
inspections, facility evaluations and air testing
results, maintenance activities and purchasing
records, occupancy restrictions, and make them
available to parents, employees, and the public, at
all times at no charge (i.e. on the school or district


Contact me for links or
copies, healthykids@rcn.com

A Case Study of Environmental, Health & Safety
Issues Involving The Burlington (Ma) Public School
System. "Tips, suggestions, and resources for
investigating and resolving EHS issues in Schools"
prepared by Todd H. Dresser, Environmental
Engineer, formerly of) Burlington Board of Health,
Burlington, Massachusetts 01803

Environmental Health and Safety Problems
Reported in Massachusetts' Public Schools by
Massachusetts Agencies, February 2006

Prioritization of 31 Criteria For School Building
Adequacy. Glen I. Earthman, Professor Emeritus,
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0302
Title 9, Part E, SEC. 9532. UNSAFE SCHOOL

Each State receiving funds under this Act
shall establish and implement a statewide
policy requiring that a student attending a
persistently dangerous public elementary
school or secondary school, as determined
by the State in consultation with a
representative sample of local educational
agencies, or who becomes a victim of a
violent criminal offense, as determined by
State law, while in or on the grounds of a
public elementary school or secondary
school that the student attends, be allowed
to attend a safe public elementary school or
secondary school within the local
educational agency, including a public
charter school.

(b) CERTIFICATION- As a condition of
receiving funds under this Act, a State shall
certify in writing to the Secretary that the
State is in compliance with this section.

Ellie Goldberg, M.Ed. 617 965-9637
Please send comments, questions and/or an endorsement to
Ellie Goldberg ellie.goldberg@healthy-kids.info