- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 20, 2005

Cardozo High School in Northwest will reopen today after the building was closed intermittently during the past three weeks as crews performed a series of mercury spill cleanups.

D.C. public school officials on Saturday gave community members a tour of the mercury-free school at 1300 Clifton St. NW.

“The walk-through was fine, so the school is going to open on time,” city schools spokeswoman Leonie Campbell said yesterday.

Thomas Brady, the school system’s chief of business operations, led the group of about 20 parents, teachers, students and city officials through the second-floor science room and nearby storage area from which the mercury and other hazardous materials were removed.

Crews with the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday completed the cleanup and testing, which included the screening of hundreds of student lockers.

Mr. Brady said a protocol for removing chemicals that pose “any sort of danger” from every city public school will be announced today.

Mercury and other hazardous chemicals were banned from schools after a 2003 spill at Ballou Senior High School in Southeast, which led officials to shut down the building for a month.

Schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey, who ordered the latest protocol, was hired last year.

Mercury was found at Cardozo three times since late last month — Feb. 23, March 2 and March 6. Cardozo students have been bused to the University of the District of Columbia for classes since March 8, while EPA crews cleared the school.

Police have charged three students in the Feb. 23 spill. The students reportedly have told police they obtained the mercury from the school’s science laboratory. School officials at first denied the reports, saying all mercury had been removed from all schools after the Ballou spill.

It is still not clear whether the mercury found March 2 and March 6 was new or overlooked by crews who cleaned the school after the first spill.

The final costs associated with the incidents at Cardozo have not been announced.

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