Thursday, December 18, 2014

Playground problems: Recalls issued, schools unaware, lawsuit possible

Photo by Jim Matheny
In February 2009, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of a popular Playland brand swing set, telling customers to "immediately stop" using it.

Knox County Schools never got the letter.

In late August – more than five years after the announcement – a recalled "arch" set at Lonsdale Elementary School snapped while fourth grader Ronnivea Wilson swung from it.

She crashed to the ground and suffered minor bruises to her left side, records show.

Her family hired a local attorney, Linda Betz, who told officials in October that "this matter could end up in litigation," according to a letter her office sent to Knox County's Risk Management Department.

Officials have since said little about the accident.

But, a WBIR 10News investigation shows that KCS doesn't have mechanisms in place to quickly identify problems on its playgrounds and quickly fix them.

KCS – unlike the county's Parks and Recreation Department and other school systems in the state – also doesn't have a central database that details what type of equipment and materials it has on each of its more than 50 playgrounds.

That means county and school inspectors don't have easy access to information. Instead, they have to go through the individual schools, which often don't have records. Or, they have to personally visit each playground to determine what is there.

Problems that affect multiple school playgrounds aren't discovered sometimes until weeks, months and years later, according to records. Fixing them, too, can take KCS time.

The full story is RIGHT HERE.

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