Get the Lead Out: Unsafe levels of lead paint force Catholic school in Chicago to shut down St. Elizabeth Catholic School

Get the Lead Out: Unsafe levels of lead paint force Catholic school in Chicago to shut down

St. Elizabeth Catholic School on the South Side of Chicago will be closed for the 2015-16 academic year after it was determined that the building was unsafe.

Less than a week before classes were to resume, the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office of Catholic Schools announced that for the coming year, students from St. Elizabeth will attend Holy Angels Catholic School, which is about eight blocks from St. Elizabeth. Each school has about 200 students in elementary grades.

A news release from the Archdiocese referred to "serious building safety issues" at St. Elizabeth, but was not more specific. The Chicago Tribune reports that St. Elizabeth School was found to have unsafe levels of lead paint.

"During our work this summer to improve the St. Elizabeth School facility, we identified serious building safety issues," said Mary Kearney, interim superintendent of Archdiocesan schools. "We place the safety of our students first and once the situation became clear, we immediately sought another way to help St. Elizabeth students continue their education in the Catholic tradition."

The combined school will be led by the new principal from St. Elizabeth, Siobhan Cafferty.

The Archdiocese says it will provide additional financial and human resources to Holy Angels during 2015-2016 to ease the transition for St. Elizabeth's students and to support the education program. Families from St. Elizabeth will receive a tuition discount this year if they transfer to Holy Angels, and daily bus service will be provided from St. Elizabeth to Holy Angels. 

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