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Campus Checkups Improve, City Says

L.A. Unified revamps inspections after cafeteria and restroom conditions are criticized.

June 23, 2004|Jean Merl | Times Staff Writer

Months after city officials scolded Los Angeles Unified School District officials for deplorable conditions at some campus restrooms and cafeterias, a city report released Tuesday said the district is on the right track with a program to ensure clean and safe buildings.

While giving a generally positive review to the school district's improved inspection methods, the report also listed problems at five campuses found during January and February in joint city-district inspections. The findings largely mirror the more detailed reports previously posted on a school district website that informs parents of conditions at their children's schools, http://www.lausdoehs.org.

Supt. Roy Romer characterized the deficiencies as "minor in nature and easily repairable," and an aide said that many already had been corrected.

While some might take issue with Romer's and the city's descriptions of the problems, the problems seem unlikely to spark an uproar like the one last fall.

At that time, City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and others criticized school officials for filthy restrooms with clogged plumbing and no toilet paper.

By January, however, city, county and school district leaders had settled their differences with a plan that included "ride-alongs" with district employees. Some schools received notice of inspections, but others got surprise visits. The city chose, at random, to inspect Cabrillo and Manchester Avenue elementary schools, Millikan and Webster middle schools and Eagle Rock High School.

The schools' conditions ranged from poor at Eagle Rock and Manchester to good at Millikan, according to the district's 14-category score cards.

Among the 130 problems were a clogged toilet, burned-out lightbulbs, pest infestations, leaky roofs and exposed electrical boxes. Inspectors said they found "no serious structural or mechanical hazards."

"While LAUSD's program is still relatively new, their overall procedures, scope of work and compliance standards were found to be thorough and comprehensive," the city building department's report said.

In a written statement, Delgadillo said: "Although the inspection results show that we still have a lot of work to do to improve the conditions of our campuses, the school district is clearly moving in the right direction."

The district "has embraced an open, transparent inspection process," he added.

Romer said he was pleased with the city report.

"I believe the city attorney and I would agree that we have a well-conceived and reliable process in place to assure the safety of our schools," Romer said.

City inspectors had half a dozen suggestions for enhancing the district's program, however. One was to send only one district employee with an inspector on rounds to minimize distractions.

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