Legislation aims to prevent new private and charter schools on toxic land

Before a new public school can be built, California law requires certain safety measures to prevent construction on a hazardous site. These include specific remediation protocols for land that was previously contaminated and an assessment from local air regulators if the site is within a quarter mile of a pollution-emitting facility. But those rules don’t apply to private schools and charter schools, which only need to obtain approval from their local municipality in a much less rigorous process. That could change under legislation authored by Assemblyman Alex Lee (D-Fremont) and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens).

AB 762 would hold charter and private schools to the same siting requirements as public schools to ensure the health and safety of staff and children.

“The bill would require private and charter schools to identify nearby sources of air pollution, consult with their local air districts, and meet siting requirements by evaluating the schoolsite for potential hazardous substances, hazardous emissions, or hazardous waste,” according to a press release from Assemblyman Lee’s office. 

“All schools should be required to meet the same safety requirements to ensure all children and school staff are safe from hazardous materials,” said Lee. “There’s already too much inequality in our education system. Children who attend different types of schools should not be unequally safe.”

The bill was sponsored by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Read more about the legislation and what sparked it at NBC News