Whistleblower Points to Asbestos in Schools

A long-time maintenance man at the Sweetwater Union High School District in the South Bay, San Diego (Calif.) area recently contacted the investigative team at a local news station to tell them he believes students there are still being exposed to asbestos, despite the fact that the district has received thousands of dollars for asbestos abatement.

According to a story recently aired on 10News, George Gerber, a maintenance employee for 17 years, came to the 10News I-Team with boxes of documents. He says he’s repeatedly tried to get the district to listen to his concerns about asbestos exposure, but he’s largely been ignored.

“Almost all of the older schools had some type of asbestos in one form or another,” Gerber points out. “There are areas and rooms that I’ve been reporting for extended period of time that’s almost gone on for 2 years that haven’t been addressed,” he says.

“The I-Team’s asbestos investigation sparked the interest of Frank Parra, who is Vice Mayor for National City,” the story claims. “He’s taking action because three schools in National City – National Middle School, Sweetwater Union High School and Granger Junior High School – are part of the Sweetwater Union High School District.”

Officials say bond money earmarked for asbestos removal in the district has been used for other issues instead. “They got the money and the first thing they did was add on a new wing to the administration building,” says Bernadine Hoff, who served on the San Diego County Grand Jury in 2002-2003. That jury investigated the district’s use of its bond money and the district’s priorities.

Hoff applauds Gerber for taking a stand against the district. “I think he’s a brave man and a good man,” Hoff says.

The district maintains that the asbestos poses no health threat to students and staff, but Gerber has been denied access to the school grounds unless he’s accompanied by another school employee.

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