Asbestos Woes Continue at New Jersey Middle School

The Montclair, NJ township council has decided to launch its own investigation into asbestos problems at the city’s Renaissance Middle School after parents expressed much concern about exposure to the toxic mineral.

“After hearing emotional appeals from representatives of Renaissance parent groups, Mayor Ed Remsen directed Township Manager Joseph Hartnett and Township Attorney Alan Trembulak to gather information on what would be needed for the municipal governing body to mount its own review of the asbestos contamination at the century-old school building,” states an article in the Montclair Times.

The council also agreed to set aside as much as $10,000 for a review of the situation at the middle school.

“We’re very pleased that the council took this action,” said Helene Richman, a member of the Concerned Parents of Renaissance (CPR). Richman, notes the article, was one of eight parents who drafted a petition calling for a township-led probe. More than half of the 200 families with kids that attend the middle school signed the petition, Richman said.

“Our goal is to have the town hire outside research consultants who are trained to sort through all the information and compile a complete, and accurate report that will be available to the entire community,” the concerned parent said in her statement to the council.

The Montclair School District leases the Renaissance Middle School facility from the Archdiocese of Newark. The building is about 100 years old and has had asbestos problems in the past.

School district superintendent Frank Alvarez continued to try to reassure parents that students are not at risk. In a letter to school families, he wrote: “The building was inspected by state and local officials monitoring the district, including agents from the Asbestos Control and Licensing Division of the N.J. Department of Labor, the N.J. Department of Health and the Montclair Building Inspector. All agencies agreed that the school was safe for students and staff.”

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