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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, August 19, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSIMMONDS SAYS NO REASON TO SHUT DOWN MONROE

SIMMONDS SAYS NO REASON TO SHUT DOWN MONROE

Recent attention drawn to Joseph Sibilly Elementary School and its James Monroe annex caused Sen. Norman Jn-Baptiste, chairman of the senate's Education Committee, to inspect the annex and conclude that it should be closed. But Ruby Simmonds, commissioner of the Education Department disagrees.
In a release from Education Monday, Simmonds said, "Based on my assessment, I believe that any determination to close the James Monroe School at this time would be premature."
Simmonds' assessment was based on a site inspection she conducted Friday with Leonard Reed, assistant director of Environmental Protection at the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
Jn-Baptiste sent a letter to Simmonds after he inspected the annex last week saying he was "completely appalled" by the conditions he found it "unconscionable and abominable that any child in the Virgin Islands should be schooled in such deplorable and unsanitary conditions."
Sibilly and Monroe came into the public eye when it was revealed Aug. 21 — two days before school was to begin — that drinking water at both schools was contaminated with volatile organic chemicals.
Jn-Baptiste claimed he found a "makeshift sewage catchment" at Monroe next to the cistern and water tank and those students were being "exposed to the effluence of an open sewage facility" and the lunchroom was "close to an exposed toilet facility."
But Simmonds said, "After close scrutiny of the James Monroe facility, I have determined that there is no reason to close this campus.
"In the senator's communications, his claim that the students' use of a lunch area that is 10 feet from open toilet facilities is misleading. His statement suggests that students eat their lunch next to open toilets of some sort; however, students eat at two long tables immediately outside their classroom, on a covered porch. At some distance are three bathrooms, each with a door which can be closed."
Simmonds also said there is an above-ground septic tank, but it is not close to the school's drinking water cistern.
Until the cistern water has again been tested, Education has provided the school with water for washing hands and flushing.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, chairman of the Legislature's Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, has called a committee meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday to assess the water situation at Sibilly and Monroe and to question various departments on their plans for comprehensive water tests for all public schools.

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Recent attention drawn to Joseph Sibilly Elementary School and its James Monroe annex caused Sen. Norman Jn-Baptiste, chairman of the senate's Education Committee, to inspect the annex and conclude that it should be closed. But Ruby Simmonds, commissioner of the Education Department disagrees.
In a release from Education Monday, Simmonds said, "Based on my assessment, I believe that any determination to close the James Monroe School at this time would be premature."
Simmonds' assessment was based on a site inspection she conducted Friday with Leonard Reed, assistant director of Environmental Protection at the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
Jn-Baptiste sent a letter to Simmonds after he inspected the annex last week saying he was "completely appalled" by the conditions he found it "unconscionable and abominable that any child in the Virgin Islands should be schooled in such deplorable and unsanitary conditions."
Sibilly and Monroe came into the public eye when it was revealed Aug. 21 -- two days before school was to begin -- that drinking water at both schools was contaminated with volatile organic chemicals.
Jn-Baptiste claimed he found a "makeshift sewage catchment" at Monroe next to the cistern and water tank and those students were being "exposed to the effluence of an open sewage facility" and the lunchroom was "close to an exposed toilet facility."
But Simmonds said, "After close scrutiny of the James Monroe facility, I have determined that there is no reason to close this campus.
"In the senator's communications, his claim that the students' use of a lunch area that is 10 feet from open toilet facilities is misleading. His statement suggests that students eat their lunch next to open toilets of some sort; however, students eat at two long tables immediately outside their classroom, on a covered porch. At some distance are three bathrooms, each with a door which can be closed."
Simmonds also said there is an above-ground septic tank, but it is not close to the school's drinking water cistern.
Until the cistern water has again been tested, Education has provided the school with water for washing hands and flushing.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, chairman of the Legislature's Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, has called a committee meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday to assess the water situation at Sibilly and Monroe and to question various departments on their plans for comprehensive water tests for all public schools.