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School District 95 Disputes $18,000 IDPH Fine

The Illinois Department of Public Health issued an intent to fine Lake Zurich school district due to alleged violations in its asbestos management plan at May Whitney School.

The Lake Zurich school district is challenging 18 counts of alleged violations to the Illinois’ Asbestos Abatement Act, stemming from an inspection in May of 2011 at The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued an intent to fine the district $18,000, on May 29, 2012.

Lake Zurich Patch obtained this information from a resident who filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with

The school district has issued a statement, via Jean Malek, District 95 director of communications, in response to a request for information from Lake Zurich Patch:

“In response to your question about the IDPH fine, the allegations primarily pertain to documentation of our asbestos management plan at May Whitney resulting from an IDPH “Compliance Assistance” inspection. We are challenging and disputing these allegations. The appeal process is just beginning and has not been resolved.” 

The Illinois’ Asbestos Abatement Act and Code requires that all schools be inspected for asbestos and develop asbestos management plans. The IDPH Division of Environmental Health reviews asbestos management and inspects abatement projects to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. 

The state also regulates people who perform asbestos-related work and requires that people who manage or abate asbestos in schools be trained and licensed, according to the IDPH website, Responsibilities for Local Education Agencies for Asbestos in Schools.

The IDPH alleges that: the district did not notify the school community regarding asbestos inspections; allowed work on asbestos duct and pipe insulation to be done by workers not properly licensed; areas in the building with asbestos containing building material (ACBM) did not have warning signs and the information was not provided to contractors; the district did not provide notification of its asbestos management plan, did not keep a copy of the plan in the office and did not properly maintain asbestos records; the management plan was not signed by the asbestos manager; various areas were not properly sampled for asbestos or assumed to have asbestos in the management plan; and asbestos removal records were not properly documented.

In addition, the IDPH cited these violations: clearance air monitoring documentation for the removal of asbestos was nor properly documented; the school and designated person did not record periodic surveillance and did not record each maintenance activity on ACBM into the management plan and did not properly document the removal of ACBM; the 1990 addition was either not properly inspected for ACBM or provided with a licensed architect or engineer's exclusionary statement; the school’s maintenance plan was not properly implemented or documented; and the school did not notify IDPH prior to the removal of asbestos floor tile in February, 2011.

Here is a timeline of the events:

  • The original inspection date at May Whitney was on May 24, 2011, and was conducted by Glen Garner, environmental engineer for IDPH. 
  • On July 19, 2011, the IDPH issued a warning letter to Deborah Ewanio, Asbestos Inspection and Management Inc., of Arlington Heights, the district’s designated asbestos manager. The letter stated that the 18 outlined issues needed to be corrected within 30 days.
  • The district asked and received an extension until Sept. 9, 2011. 
  • Lyle Erstad, director of facilities for District 95, sent a letter dated Sept. 8, 2011, responding to the alleged violations with plans for corrections.
  • Lake Zurich Patch could not determine if there was a response from IDPH regarding the corrections. District 95 has not yet responded to that question.  Kevin P. Jacobs, general counsel for IDPH, has not responded to a request for information.
  • Regardless of the district’s stated corrections, the IDPH sent the intent to impose an $18,000 fine on May 29, 2012.
  • A weekly update from District 95 Superintendent Dr. Michael Egan (provided in the FOIA request) and dated June 21, 2012, says that six large binders of documentation were sent to IDPH.

Check back to Lake Zurich Patch for updates on this issue when more information becomes available. 

 

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Say it isn't so July 19, 2012 at 04:25 PM
So we are paying to defend Deborah Ewanio practices and it is her incompetence that got us into this mess?
just wondering July 19, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Thisi s serious. It just shows with out a doubt that the district has a cavalier attitude about complying with safety regulations. They took their sweet time to address the IDPH concerns and then still haven't answered their questions. Now we have to pay an attorney to dispute the fines. IDPH has been at MW many times and gave our district so many chances to address their concerns. This is more than just paperwork. The district is jeopardizing the safety of our children by cutting corners every step of the way.
k July 19, 2012 at 07:46 PM
So, this asbestos inspector has been doing her job for over 20 years in the district and one visit by IDPH at one school and they find 18 violations? Come on -- what is going? What is this insane allegiance to a company of one to inspect cancer causing asbestos? Just trying to save money, District 95?!?!?
Docent July 19, 2012 at 09:29 PM
How can District 95 officials continually allow children to be put at health risks? Even asking for the extension is shameful, much less waiting until the day before the extension expired to respond. I think the arrogance is appalling. Wouldn't it be refreshing if once, parents got the whole, honest picture? Thank you to the vigilant few. The rest of us have no idea the work being done by a few for all of our children. Keep up the good work and thank you Patch.
Don't jump the gun July 20, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I am sure that in 20 years IDPH has been to the school more than once and have found things to be fine. These allegations just seem to be a paper miscommunication. I am sure the school district has been doing everything to ensure the childrens safety. The people from the community attacking these issues are costing the tax payers by having the school district defend themselves against frivolous allegations.
Say it isn't so July 20, 2012 at 08:12 PM
straw man alert!
Docent July 21, 2012 at 01:46 AM
So, Don't jump the gun, I am curious how you are "sure" of what has happened between IDPH and District 95 for the past 20 years, and also how you are "sure" the school district has been doing everything to ensure children's safety. Sounds to me like District 95 spin. If you are indeed SURE, how about some facts instead of opinion. If all you care about is tax dollars, say so. I doubt that IDPH deals in frivolous. I would expect that educated professionals would know how to do proper paperwork. Wouldn't you?
k July 21, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Don't jump the gun -- You are blaming the community members for the school district breaking the law? Did you ever think the community may not have had anything to do with this? The school district has a history of mishandling asbestos. You don't remember 2007?

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