Resolution calling for the DOE to have a lab specialist in every secondary school

WHEREAS, laboratory specialists and laboratory technicians serve crucial roles in New York City public schools by ensuring the safe operation of school science demonstrations and student laboratory exercises; and

WHEREAS, science teachers rely on laboratory specialists to review the safety procedures for demonstrations and laboratory exercises and to collaborate with them to ensure the safe use of equipment and materials; and

WHEREAS, the number of school laboratory specialists in city schools has dropped by more than half, from 250 in 1995 to only 123 in 2013, leaving many middle, junior high and high schools without a lab specialist; and

WHEREAS, a science demonstration involving methanol fumes at Beacon HS in early January 2014 unfortunately resulted in two students suffering burns; and

WHEREAS, that school does not have a lab specialist and was subsequently cited for improper storage of chemicals among other violations; and

WHEREAS, the lack of laboratory specialists in many schools has created a health and safety risk for students and staff; and

WHEREAS, the training received by laboratory specialists allows them to ensure that schools are in compliance with the safety regulations set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the city DOE’s office of occupational safety and health, and the city fire department, and includes training in the safe handling of chemicals, chemical waste removal and how to respond safely to a chemical spill; and

WHEREAS, students in New York State are required to complete a minimum of 1,200 minutes of hands-on laboratory exercises prior to every Regents exam in science, with the 8th-grade science exam also requiring prior active laboratory work; and

WHEREAS, the UFT had previously addressed concerns surrounding the declining number of lab specialists in a resolution in Feb. 2012, since which time the number   has gone down further; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT calls on the DOE to immediately use all lab specialists now in excess and to hire more lab specialists in order that every secondary school in the city has a lab specialist; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT calls on the DOE to ensure that all science teachers and other relevant staff receive lab-safety training; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT also calls on the DOE to conduct an immediate review in all city schools of all labs, lab equipment, safety gear and chemical storage practices to ensure they meet safety and health standards.

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Union Resolutions

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