“Fairfax County schools place new playground apparatus off limits to kids”

by Walter Olson on February 14, 2013

$30,000 in community fund-raising later, kids have a reason to be glum [Washington Post]:

Although parents worked with the Fairfax County Public Schools facilities department, purchased the equipment, hired a contractor and had the playground ready for recess, the school system suddenly deemed the play equipment too dangerous. Since Nov. 30 it has been off-limits, parents say.

Never mind that the same equipment is installed at more than 1,200 parks and schools across the country, including a public park in the county.

Update: District changes mind.

{ 7 comments }

1 Randy 02.14.13 at 5:08 pm

Words fail.

2 boblipton 02.14.13 at 6:27 pm

The real reason is that the kids might damage the equipment. Like the parlor when I was a kid, it’s for People, whoever they are.

Bob

3 gitarcarver 02.14.13 at 7:05 pm

From the article:

The facilities department says the new equipment must go. But to make amends, Fairfax is offering to revamp the Stratford Landing playground, using about $135,000 from the county’s coffers.

So let me get this straight….. the school facilities department screws up in approving what is now deemed to be too dangerous and they want to make up for it by spending $135,000 of tax payers money after already wasting $35,000 of the money the PTA raised.

Not it a perfect world. In that world, the people that gave the go ahead at every step of the approval process would have to refund the money to the PTA and remove the “offending” structure. This isn’t a taxpayer mistake and taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for it.

Take it out of the Facilities people’s salaries.

4 HR Pufnstuf 02.14.13 at 8:09 pm

Safest thing now to keep those rugrats off is imbed with glass shards and cover with razor wire.

5 Benji 02.15.13 at 11:39 am

According to this, the school board changed its mind.
http://www.freerangekids.com/dangerous-playground-structure-suddenly-not-dangerous/

6 KDP 02.15.13 at 1:05 pm

Do I see this correctly? Nag the kids to get off the couch, stop with the constant TV / video games and then deny them a place to be active? It sounds almost like right out of Heller’s “Catch-22″.

7 DensityDuck 02.18.13 at 6:28 pm

Down in the back half of the second page of the article, we find the key points.

*********
In an e-mail to PTA members, David Bennett, a Fairfax schools facilities management employee, explained the rationale for removing the equipment.

“As for allowing the equipment at Stratford Landing, it would be setting a new standard,” Bennett wrote. “How could we deny another school or PTA the same playground equipment if we allowed it at [Stratford Landing]?”
*********

Meaning that this isn’t so much an “immediate health and safety” hazard, as it is a “respect mah authoritah!” moment. Correcting the decision that everyone agrees was bad just sets up a precedent that the regulators can make bad decisions, meaning that every decision now has to be justified. If the system is infallible, then its actions need no justification; therefore, the system must be infallible, whatever it takes for that to be true.

And, also,

*********
Storck said he has been unable to determine whether the school system has written regulations regarding playground construction.
*********

Which is a good answer to everyone who thinks that “common sense” ought to have leeway over regulatory activity. Because it’s entirely possible that the investigator look at the thing, said “some kid’s gonna fall off that and get hurt! We should get rid of it That’s just common sense.

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