Alexandria, VA – A brand new school playground in Virginia has been declared unfit for use before a single child has stepped foot on it.
Parents and staff at Stratford Landing Elementary School in Alexandria raised $35,000 to construct the playground for students. However, thanks to what parents describe as bureaucratic red tape, the equipment remains unused.
The playground, funded by numerous PTA silent auctions and bake sales, has been out of bounds since November 30, with the equipment wrapped in yellow “CAUTION” tape.
The Fairfax County Public Schools facilities department has deemed the playground’s various climbing nets and metals beams too dangerous for use. That’s despite the fact parents actively worked with the facilities department to buy the equipment and hire a contractor to erect it.
Furthermore, The Washington Post reports, the exact same equipment is available to use at more than 1,200 parks and schools across the country.
Eleanor Whitaker, a mother of two kids who attend Stratford Landing, tells the Post that parents have “$35,000 wrapped up in caution tape.”
School body officials say they wish to avoid potential lawsuits from a child injuring themselves on the play equipment. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that emergency rooms across the country treat more than 200,000 playground-related injuries every year.
Although the facilities department wishes to discard the new playground, it has offered to renovate the Stratford Landing playground. The $135,000 required for a revamp would come from county coffers. Whitaker counters:
“Funding a new playground is costing taxpayer money. It would be a tremendous waste of money to pull the equipment out.”
John Torre, a spokesman for the Fairfax school system, said:
“Unfortunately, the playground equipment purchased by the PTA does not meet FCPS safety standards. We are currently working with school officials to consider options to upgrade and renovate the entire school playground.”
Where do you stand on this decision? Is the school body right to insist on safety requirements being met, or is this political correctness gone mad?