Since the 2014 asbestos controversy in the Ocean View School District in the fall of 2014, a number of Huntington Beach parents have remained concerned over what they perceive as non-responsiveness and in some cases, stonewalling from the current school board, led by President Gina Clayton-Tarvin, over follow-ups, resolutions and other information related to the incident(s).
One parent, Jim Sagara, this week re-posted a series of questions for the board on an OVSD Facebook forum page. They are included below. He had originally posted them back in ’14, was dissatisfied with the answers he received and decided to take another try at getting more direct, informative responses (as of this writing, the publicly-posted questions remain unanswered).
On the heels of at least one of the affected school finally re-opening, I spoke with Sagara this week about his mounting frustrations with the district (which resulted in him pulling his daughter of Mesa View to be home schooled). Here is our conversation:
For the record, these are Sagara’s questions to the school board, re-posted this week on Facebook:
This is a followup to the open letter I posted to Gina Clayton Tarvin and John Briscoe.
Ms. Clayton Tarvin and Mr. Briscoe,
It has been more than a year since I asked specific questions of you. In that time two board members were replaced with persons that you advocated for, and supposedly are sympathetic to your concerns. Also the Superintendent was replaced with a person of your choosing, as well as the assistant superintendent being let go.
1. Was the incident at Mesa View in which I described ever investigated? Specifically I refer to my account of September 2nd (the day before school started and before the clean up was finished) whereas myself, my daughter, and dozens of other people were exposed to clouds of dust from an active asbestos clean up site. There were no caution or warning signs. The campus was not closed. Nobody asked us to leave so they could blow dust everywhere. Why was dust being allowed to be blown all over from an asbestos clean up site? If this was investigated, who did the investigation? What were their findings? If there was no investigation, why not?
2. According to construction records, Mesa View was not cleared to reopen until the first day of school. Once again, I ask, was this before or after students and teachers arrived? If it was after people arrived, who in the district gave them permission to open before the clean up work had been inspected and approved?
3. Whom, if anyone has investigated Paul Moberly’s claims that asbestos was spewing everywhere as a Mesa View roof was being torn off, and specifically onto a ball field where children were playing. What agency investigated this? What were their findings? Was any effort made to identify the children? If not, why not?
4. Paul Moberly also claimed that he had reported violations to the district that were ignored. Is this true? If so, what district personnel were aware of violations, and were such violations handled appropriately?
5. Are there any pending lawsuits against OVSD concerning asbestos and/or construction related incidents? Who are the plaintiffs? In which court system are they filed? Please provide the case numbers if any.
6. Does OVSD currently have any pending litigation against the construction and oversight companies which were operating during the asbestos incidents? If so, please provide the court system and case number.
7. Was the incident at Hope View, in which a cloud of “construction dust” billowed through the school just minutes before students arrived ever investigated? What materials did this dust contain? If it was not investigated, why not? If the dust was not analyzed for toxins and carcinogens, why not? Has any new training been implemented to principals and support staff to keep a school closed until any future mysterious clouds have been thoroughly tested?
8. Has anyone within OVSD, working on behalf of OVSD, or any investigative entity looked at phone records, text messages, emails or any other forms of communications, to try and ascertain what OVSD personnel knew of violations and whether such violations were handled in an appropriate manner? What were their findings? If not, why not?
I sincerely hope to get specific and concise answers, and not politically filtered legalese which doesn’t actually answer the direct questions. I really hate the idea of writing back and forth to faceless bureaucrats in Sacramento or file a Freedom of Information Act just to coerce real answers from a local school district that is a half mile from my home.
And these were the answers Sagara had originally received from Clayton-Tarvin in October 2014 – the responses that he felt were highly unsatisfactory. Be your own judge:
All roofing material had been removed prior to September 3, 2014, and the associated transite from the main roofing operation had already been removed. Another asbestos contractor, ERSI, completed both the physical removal of transite that was found on the site as well as the clean-up involved in the removal for an exterior Procedure 5. The Procedure 5 work plan was filed for September 2, 2014, and work commenced the next day. Patriot Environmental’s closure report states the visual inspection occurred on September 3, 2014, and the report was filed with SCAQMD on September 6, 2014.
2. What oversight was there over the cleanup of the Mesa View violations? Was a third party observer or advisor there for the entire process? I would guess there are photos documenting the violations. Who has them and when can we see them?
The asbestos violation at Mesa View was caused by a contractor named B&M Tear Off, which is a licensed roofing contractor qualified to perform asbestos removal work. B&M Tear Off’s roof removal deviated from contractually required asbestos removal procedures and those that are typical in the industry. The DSA inspector, Paul Moberly, notified SCAQMD of the violation and a Procedure 5 was commenced soon after the violation on August 23, 2014. B&M Tear Off did not perform the Procedure 5, rather, ERSI, a licensed outside abatement contractor was brought in to undertake the Procedure 5 operation. This Procedure 5 was written and overseen by Patriot Environmental. Patriot Environmental was required to report on the completion of the Procedure 5 and filed its report with SCAQMD on September 6, 2014.
3. Who is Paul Moberly and was he fired from his position as inspector? Who fired him and why? I have an archived Facebook post in which he briefly tells of violations that his reports fell on deaf ears, and have also read a parent’s account of speaking to him. Were District officials asked to come to construction sites to observe violations? Did they show up and where is the documentation? Are there other violations that have been reported, that as of yet have not been made public? Why have no public statements from Mr. Moberly been forthcoming?
Paul Moberly was the DSA inspector for the Mesa View and Hope View projects. Mr. Moberly was hired to inspect project drawings and specifications. Typically the DSA project inspector is responsible to oversee all aspects of the construction project pursuant to the requirements of the DSA approved plans and specifications, except for certain areas that are contracted under the DSA inspector’s oversight called special inspection. Asbestos operations are usually performed with special contractors and overseen by special inspection by a Certified Asbestos contractor who is able to wear protective gear and both observe and test the asbestos abatement. In this case, the special asbestos inspection company was Patriot Environmental. While Patriot Environmental was responsible to oversee all aspects of asbestos abatement at all eleven (11) schools, it is unclear whether Patriot Environmental was overseeing the Mesa View Roof removal. The District has made inquiries with Patriot Environmental, however, Patriot Environmental has not responded as to whether they were performing special inspection or if Mr. Moberly was undertaking the special inspection.
There is a typical protocol where the inspector is required to notify the contractor that there is a safety deviation. Mr. Moberly noted issues with transite roof tile removal on July 17 and July 18, 2014, when there was no environmental inspection company on site. There is a Notice of Deviation to Chapman Coast roofing dated July 31, 2014. However, other than noting the failure to comply with specified safety requirements, there is no notification of improper asbestos removal to B&M Tear Off.
There was no special inspection provided on Mesa View and Mr. Moberly did not request special inspection be hired to oversee the Mesa View roof removal operation. Thus, despite having the opportunity to stop construction and the removal of asbestos, it appears that Mr. Moberly failed to do so. When there was an asbestos violation on Saturday, August 23, 2014, a day when SCAQMD was not in operation, rather than notify the contractor to stop the improper asbestos removal, Mr. Moberly appears to have allowed the entire roof removal without a notice of non-conformance or any attempt to stop the work.
The District did not ask for Mr. Moberly to be removed from the Mesa View and Hope View projects on September 27, 2014. The District learned that the inspection company had Mr. Moberly removed, but the exact reasons are unclear. The District did receive a threatening e-mail indicating that Mr. Moberly planned on notifying the press of asbestos oversight issues that appear to have occurred and were resolved over a month prior to Mr. Moberly being removed from the projects. It appears that Mr. Moberly notified Kacey Montoya of KTLA the evening after he was removed from the projects. The District is not aware of any attempts to notify the District that work should be stopped and there is no written record of any notifications to the District that there was an asbestos issue prior to the issue coming to light on the evening news on September 27, 2014.
The only time the District is aware that Mr. Moberly was going to notify the District of asbestos or construction problems was in Mr. Moberly’s September 27, 2014 e-mail correspondence that was written only to the construction manager, the architect, and Mr. Moberly’s employer. A copy of the e- mail was provided to the District on October 2, 2014. We are unaware of any notification from Mr. Moberly. In fact, when the evening news addressed asbestos violations, multiple District administrators tried to reach Mr. Moberly to ascertain more information about the concerns that were being complained of, but Mr. Moberly did not return telephone calls.
4. Please list all government agencies, environmental, contracting, criminal currently investigating one or more incidents or violations.
Cal/OSHA began an investigation during the first full week of October.
5. Are there any state/federal/local regulations concerning construction or abatement while children are present in school? If so, were there any violations?
There are no regulations prohibiting asbestos abatement while children are in school. Abatement is governed by AQMD Rule 1403. Cal/OSHA requirements are governed by California Code of Regulations, Title 8 Section 1529.