Suit seeks independent inspection to reopen Meadow Bridge second story

By Sarah Plummer REGISTER-HERALD REPORTER Register Herald

Meadow Bridge Citizens for Community Schools filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking an opportunity to have the high school examined by Professional Engineer Daniel Short in hopes of reopening Meadow Bridge High School’s second story.

The suit demands access to the building for private structural analysis to determine if floor joists are a danger to students and if they can be repaired.

The school’s second story was closed after a Feb. 11 structural inspection by ZMM Inc engineer Stephen Hedrick.

His report noted that the second story floor framing was “not suitable for occupying or use as a storage area in its current condition.”

The suit was filed in Fayette County Circuit Court against the Fayette County Board of Education by community schools advocate Carolyn Arritt, and Meadow Bridge High parents Emily Woods, Misty Gwinn and Neil Hanshew.

The county has not made an attempt to repair any of the three items of concern mentioned in Hedrick’s report — floor framing, exterior masonry walls and downspouts.

“The Fayette County Board of Education acted arbitrarily and capriciously in not making the repairs that should have been made to Meadow Bridge High School in order to make it a safe and healthy school,” stated the complaint, filed by Lewisburg Attorney Barry L. Bruce.

The plaintiffs allege closing the upstairs space has reduced the school by 4,101 square feet, or 17.28 percent.

This has required a snack room with lockers to be converted into an English classroom that is shared with a morning art class. The space is also still used for eating cold lunches “making very difficult teaching and learning experiences for students,” it states.

Moreover, library books that were housed in the second story are no longer assessable.

Meadow Bridge Citizens for Community Schools has asked both former interim Superintendent Dr. Serena Starcher and current Superintendent Terry George for permission for Daniel Short to inspect the joists at Meadow Bridge and determine the cost of repair.

As previously reported by The Register-Herald, Starcher indicated in April that the board of education could not take action based on findings by a privately contracted firm, and therefore an inspection would be moot.

The suit states that George has not responded to the group’s request.

“Plaintiffs have a right to know the magnitude of the problem, if any, at Meadow Bridge High School considering they have students attending school and, with the limited information provided by the Defendants concerning the alleged defects, Plaintiffs have no way to protect their children and determine the costs of repairs,” according to the complaint.

According to the suit, each county must develop a Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan every 10 years with an evaluation of each school.

In 2010, the School Building Authority reviewed the school and noted no deficiencies.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer