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Web letter by B.J. Biggs: Lack of air conditioning endangers New Haven High students

I am concerned for the safety of the children at New Haven High School. They have a broken air conditioning unit. Not all of them – the offices are nice and cool. They have been broken/breaking for several days.

I called and spoke to the school. The secretary had only just learned an hour prior that the unit was broken. The school principal, Greg Mohler, called me and explained (in words that implied I’m an idiot) that the unit is 35 years old and you should expect no less. He went on to say, “You wouldn’t take a car that is 35 years old to Florida and expect it to make it, would you?” My response: You definitely would not take it there with children in it.

He went on to say his son is a junior in that very school, and if he would let his son go to school then it must be safe. I inquired whether his son had any breathing problems or other health issues that would or could contribute to high temperatures harming him? Of course his reply was no, his son is healthy.

My daughter has asthma. It is controlled for the most part, but in these severe temperatures becomes unstable. I know my child is not the only child with health issues. The principal’s only response was he is there to protect these children and if my daughter and I feel it is unsafe, she is dismissed from school. But how long will this go on? How much school will she have to miss? Who will get her back on track in her AP classes? And what about the rest of the kids?

As I write this, the outside temperature is 88 degrees; with the humidity it feels like 94 degrees. Why would the school system deny purchasing a new unit; what is the price you put on child’s health and well-being? I can’t begin to tell you how upset I am with this process.

What has set me over the edge is that my daughter came home from school telling me there was an announcement by the principal that the air-conditioning unit is 35 years old and they can not expect the unit to run all the time or even properly. He went on to say that he is tired of the complaints.

Why would you threaten a child like that? I have raised my daughter to tell me what is going on. And when she does, and it is unhealthy to her and others, I speak up. He should have to sit in the classrooms all day just like the kids until they fix the air-conditioning.

One last issue: Students are not permitted to bring in and use water bottles that you can place ice in; they may only use a clear water bottle that is labeled. The teachers claim, “We do not know what is in your bottle.” They made my daughter stop using hers. She had to purchase a bottle of water, but not until lunch.

I have read all over America schools closing temporarily after temperatures in the school became unsafe. This is not too much to ask


New Haven