Officials: Asbestos-containing insulation found in basement at North Philly elementary school

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers says an environmental scientist tried to warn the district last month about asbestos at a North Philadelphia elementary school.

FOX 29's Jeff Cole reports.

The year 1909 etched in the T.M. Peirce Elementary School in North Philly tells the story of the school district’s aging buildings. Students from kindergarten to sixth grade attend classes in the structure that the teachers’ union says has exposed asbestos in the pipes above the gym.

"It is present and we believe it needs to be removed for the safety of the children and the staff in the building," Jerry Jordan with Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

The union says its environmental scientist inspected the area in September and urged the district to close the gym but it remained open.

The district inspected the area Thursday and reported to parents in a letter sent home Friday, there was no damaged asbestos material in the gymnasium. However, it was found the letter reads, " the basement hallway next to the oven” and removal of the asbestos-containing insulation will begin Friday night.

This parent of a 5th grader is concerned.

"You have to close the school. You have cancer-causing materials that’s going in the air. Not just the kids but the staff that has to come to work.," Tamitra Foreman said.

In recent weeks, the school district closed the combined Benjamin Franklin High School and the Science Leadership Academy when asbestos was found in the schools.

READ MORE: Union calls for immediate $100 million for asbestos and lead abatement in Philly schools  Students displaced by asbestos discovery head back to class at relocation sites