Promising an end to their turf war over school restrooms, Los Angeles city and school district officials announced a joint inspection plan Wednesday to address an array of health and safety issues on campuses.
The plan was unveiled by City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and Roy Romer, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, during a news conference at the sparkling clean Mayberry Street Elementary School in Echo Park.
Initially, city and county health and safety inspectors will accompany their L.A. Unified counterparts on campus visits to see how the school inspectors work. After that, city and county inspectors will make "surprise" inspections on their own -- a prospect that initially had brought friction between the city and the district.
The plan, called the Campus Safety Inspection Program, also asks the city and county to make recommendations for improving the district's health and safety program and requires the city to provide "ongoing follow-up" on the recommendations.
Delgadillo and Romer praised the cooperative efforts. And they both plugged the district's $3.87-billion bond measure for school facilities on the March 2 ballot, saying it would help pay for replacement of antiquated plumbing and broken toilets, along with the construction of new schools.
"Supt. Romer and I have worked together -- and sometimes apart -- for the past few months on crafting the best plan to make our schools the safest, healthiest places in the city," Delgadillo said.
Romer said he welcomed the help from Delgadillo and Mayor James K. Hahn. "We have made incredible progress ... and we will do better with everybody participating," Romer said.
The upbeat mood at the unveiling of the plan was a far cry from the sparks that flew just a few months ago.
In November, Delgadillo surprised and angered Romer by pushing for unannounced inspections by the city and county.
The school district was under fire from parents and others for the filth and disrepair of many of the district's 7,129 school restrooms. But school officials said they had taken steps to improve conditions, including spending money on repairs and extra cleaning, hiring bathroom monitors and enlisting parent volunteers to help keep the facilities clean.
Earlier this month, the school board promised efforts to keep parents and the public better informed about campus conditions, including reworking its website, www.lausd-oehs.org, publicizing its restrooms hotline, (800) 495-1191, and promising regular progress reports on campus conditions.
On Wednesday, Romer and Delgadillo led a long line of reporters and TV camera operators on an inspection tour, poking their heads into a green-and-white tiled boys' bathroom, the cafeteria and the outdoor eating area. Many of the school's 490 youngsters gaped at the cameras and giggled at all the fuss and attention.
Joe Lightfoot, parent of a third-grader at the school, said he had no complaints about conditions at Mayberry but welcomed the joint inspections because of problems he had heard about at other campuses.
"I think it's a good idea, and it shows they are being proactive," Lightfoot said.
The program also seemed just fine to first-grader Ethan Capos.
"I like the bathroom to be clean," the 6-year-old said.