251727 Recommended school siting laws and policies for states

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 8:30 AM

Steven Fischbach, JD , Community Lawyering, Rhode Island Legal Services, Providence, RI
There is currently a significant policy gap with respect to siting schools on or near contaminated land or sources of pollution. That policy gap was documented in a review of all 50 states' laws and policies regarding the siting of schools relative to environmental hazards: "Not in My Schoolyard: Avoiding Environmental Hazards at School Through Improved School Site Selection Policies." The review revealed that twenty (20) states have no policies of any kind affecting the siting of schools in relation to environmental hazards, the investigation or assessment of potential school sites for environmental hazards, the clean up of contaminated sites, making information available to the public about potential school sites or providing some role for members of the public in the school siting process. Moreover, only fourteen (14) states have policies that prohibit outright the siting of schools on or near sources of pollution or other hazards that pose a risk to children's safety; only five (5) of these fourteen (14) prohibit or severely restrict siting schools on or near hazardous or toxic waste sites. To address this policy gap the review recommends policy reforms in the areas of public involvement in the school site selection process, categorical exclusion of certain sites for school purposes, environmental evaluation of candidate school sites and required site remediation measures when contaminated sites are used for school purposes. This review was presented to the School Siting Task Group of EPA's Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee, which made recommendations to EPA on the contents of voluntary school siting guidelines that the agency was charged to promulgate.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe 3 criteria for evaluating whether a potential site is acceptable for use as a school from the standpoints of public health and the environment. 2. Explain how to integrate environmental justice, public health and built environment concerns into school site assessment. 3. Explain the need for better school siting policies to protect the health of students, teachers and school workers.

Keywords: School Health, Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I work at Rhode Island Legal Services as the program's Community Lawyer. My legal experience spans a variety of racial justice issues, including environmental justice, community reinvestment and disinvestment, urban school reform, siting of low income housing and facilities for the homeless and preservation of public and subsidized housing units. My environmental justice work includes litigation, research and development of policies related to the siting of schools on toxic waste sites; transactional work related to the establishment of a new environmental justice organization and grant writing to support community education and capacity building projects on environmental justice issues.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.