Cwmcarn headteacher hits back at council in asbestos row
11:00am Saturday 16th February 2013 in Gwent news
A WAR of words has broken out between Caerphilly council and the head teacher of Cwmcarn High School, which was shut due to asbestos late last year.
After a second report released at the beginning of February revealed asbestos levels could be a lot lower than was initially thought in the original Santia report which prompted the Cwmcarn building's closure, the council released a statement yesterday.
That statement argued there are still large quantities of asbestos throughout the school building, and that the building itself is in a very poor condition, which is why the school cannot return to the premises. A third survey is now set to be carried out.
But an open letter by Ms Peplinski posted on the Cwmcarn High website hours later hit back at the council's claims the school was closed partly because of the poor condition of the buildings. Pupils are currently being taught at the former Coleg Gwent site in Ebbw Vale.
A council spokesman said: "The building is a pre-1960s construction and therefore contains large amounts of asbestos material. "Also, the current general condition of the school is very poor (the school has a 'D Rating' according to the Welsh Government's School Condition Survey in 2010 and is in the worst condition of all schools in the county borough).
"Alongside the ongoing asbestos problems, there is also a considerable repair and maintenance backlog which needs to be addressed at the site.
"Our decisive steps to close the school on an interim basis for further investigation to be undertaken back in October demonstrated our commitment to protect the whole school community.
"Once we have the results of the new management survey, a report will be presented to the council with options for consideration. "No decision about the re-occupation of the Cwmcarn site can be made until this options appraisal is fully considered."
On a post on the Cwmcarn High School website yesterday, headteacher Jacqui Peplinski said: "It is being suggested by the council that the reason for closure of the school is the poor condition of the fabric of the school, and outstanding maintenance requirements as well as the presence of asbestos within the fabric of the school.
"However the reports to council on October 23 and November 20 make no mention whatsoever of the poor state of any or all of the school buildings as a reason for closure.
"The reports justify closure solely on asbestos risks."