May 14, 2009

No Water For DC Students & Staff At Bell Multi- Cultural High

On Wednesday, May 13th Bell Multicultural High School experienced a break in their lateral water line to the school. Unfortunately, a little birdie told me that Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee decided not to close Bell despite these conditions. This unfortunate incident was also kept hush-hush . Staff members at the school were not properly informed by the school administration nor were Bell parents given written notice regarding yesterday's series of events and what transpired. Throughout the day, a series of 3 announcements were made over the school's loud speakers telling students not to use the restrooms.

The school system failed to utilize a contingency plan to deal with this emergency. As a result there was no running water throughout the day and students and staff had to be shuffled to a nearby charter school to use the restroom facilities beginning around mid morning at 11 a.m.

There were complaints that the school's restrooms were being used despite the announcements but eventually toilets could not continue to be flushed as the day progressed due to the lack of running water. Despite not having the benefit of running water and optimal sanitary conditions , lunch was still served to students on schedule which was a cause for alarm for some especially given recent outbreaks of the swine flu and other potential viruses.

Fortunately, some students had the good sense to notify their parents directly via their personal cell phones. Some parents made the decision to pick their children up from school rather than allow them to remain under these conditions. According to my sources, the water line at Bell has only been patched and not completely repaired. It is unclear what today holds for DC students and staff at Bell. Stay tuned as this story unfolds.
(Posted by The Washington Teacher).


Old School DCPS said...

Bell and Lincoln, joined into the new Lincoln Educational Campus, is a brand new building. What's up with this?

Concerned DC resident said...

This is abusive and inhumane! This type of abuse only occurs in DCPS to black/african american students. A school in the state of Maryland thought that there was going to be a problem with the water and the school notified the parents and that school was closed. This is too cruel and it shows exactly how little they think of the students in DCPS. Disgusting!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it called Columbia Heights Educational Campus? Concerned, I get your point, but this school is 64% Hispanic and 33% black, off the website. So I guess DCPS doesn't think too much of its Latino students either.

The Washington Teacher said...

Probably what the Concerned DC resident's inference is for students of color and who are of minority group.

The Washington Teacher said...

Anonymous: the schools are Lincoln Multicultural Middle School and Bell Multicultural High School on the Columbia Heights Educational campus.

usereason said...

The water line broke at Hyde ES last year. It's a predominantly white school in Georgetown. It did not shut down or notify parents either.

I don't think it's a race thing. I think DCPS just doesn't use a contingency plan when water lines break, but they should.

NYC Educator said...

Charming, just charming. Alas, those of us relegated to trailers in NYC take plumbing failures as a simple albeit vile little fact of life.

V-Rah said...

Concerned Resident-

Don't be so dramatic. So there was no running water...Kids in 3rd world countries go to school with no running water every day. Yes, there needs to be some adjustments, like buying massive quantities of hand sanitizer and maybe skipping gym class, but in High School kids should know better than to use the toilets without being able to flush.

If they just let them go, what where they going to do? Hang out on the street? There is already too much of that going on.

The Washington Teacher said...

V-Rah in response to your comment to concerned resident- there should always be a contingency plan in instances like these. Its a problem when there is no plan for emergency situations. If children are first, then we need to act like it.

DC has other buildings in which students can report to in these instances and we have utilized other spaces when emergencies have occured such as when schools have no heat on very cold days or no air at all on very hot days and cannot open the windows, etc..

Keep in mind that Bell parents had concerns . As always they are the constituents that the school system must serve whether some like it or not. Had your prescious darling attended this school you would probably have a different opinion on what happened here.

usereason said...


just becuase people do things in THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES doesn't mean it's healthy or appropriate. I saw a photo of a smiling child swimming in a polluted lake - surrounded by bottles, paper waste, and brown water - in a third world country the other day. We fortunately don't have to tolerate that in this country.

What third world countries do is often unhealthy and destructive.

And no group of students (or group of adults for that matter) can just "not use the bathroom" all day long because the toilets don't work.

Any student with a medical condition, any student in menses, or any student who has drunk any liquids will have to use the bathroom before six hours is up.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Several years ago, the water main broke at my daughter's middle school in Oakland. Every single one of the one-thousand kids couldn't "hold it" for the next four hours, so the bathrooms became a horrible mess.

The following day, two port-a-potties were delivered; one was assigned to the 1000 students, and another for the staff. Of course, no hand-washing supplies were provided.

I have no idea what the adults-in-charge were thinking. Not much, apparently.