Frankford High School to be closed for rest of school year after asbestos discovery

Another Philadelphia high school is closing its doors due to environmental concerns sparked by asbestos. 

According to Principal Michael J. Calderone, asbestos was discovered on school grounds, including on the first floor where the cafeteria is. 

Calderone says the asbestos is present mostly above ceiling tiles and on top of ductwork, which was identified after the school district accelerated the routine for its three-year asbestos inspection. 

"We know this news is disappointing. The District will work in partnership with our leadership team, teachers, and families to try and identify a viable and supported alternative space for students and staff," the principal said. "We will prioritize finding viable space for students who require special assistance." 


This school closure comes shortly after two other Philadelphia schools, Building 21 and the Mitchell School, also closed due to asbestos. 


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The School District of Philadelphia released the following statement confirming the closure: 

"We understand this has been a difficult time for students, staff and school families, and we thank them for patience and understanding while the District continues to complete work to address environmental and maintenance issues at multiple schools. There are 295 buildings in the District which have asbestos-containing materials. Regular inspections in each building are critical to identifying damage so we can make appropriate plans for repairs. With our new partner Tetra Tech, the District’s enhanced inspection procedures have been identifying needed abatement in more places. Frankford High will need to remain closed through the end of the school year based on asbestos damage identified this week, including on the Ground Floor where the cafeteria spaces are located. These areas of concern - mostly above ceiling tiles and on top of ductwork - were identified when the District accelerated the scheduling of the routine three-year Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) inspection after the identification of plaster that contains asbestos. Identifying these concerns ultimately helps protect the wellbeing of our students and staff. As the students remain virtual, the District will work in partnership with Frankford and Mitchell’s school leadership team, teachers, parents, and community to try to identify viable and supported alternative space for students and staff. However, each school is prioritizing identifying viable space for students who require special assistance. We continue to update our families most affected by the closures of our schools."

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) issued stern remarks before the Philadelphia City Council about continued environmental concerns at city schools. 

"Let me remind us all that we are, in fact, violating our Commonwealth's constitution. We are not providing our young people with a thorough and efficient system of public education when we are allowing them to enter buildings that can have life-long impacts on their health," PFT President Jerry Jordan said. "It is shameful, and it would never, ever be tolerated in a wealthier, whiter school district." 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.