CBS Miami
rickards roof collapse

Roof collaspes at Broward County, Fla., middle school; 10 treated for minor injuries

March 5, 2021
More than 200 students and staff members were evacuated when the roof over the media center at James S. Rickards Middle School gave way.

A roof collapsed Friday at a middle school in Oakland Park, Fla., sending more than 10 people to the hospital.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that nearly 200 children evacuated James S. Rickards Middle School after the roof over the media center collapsed mid-morning. Many left behind their belongings as they hurried away.

No one was in the media center at the time because it was under construction, a spokeswoman for the Broward County school district said.

More than 10 people — students and adults — were taken to two hospitals in Fort Lauderdale with minor injuries.

A school district statement said: “Several students and adults had minor medical complaints, including headaches, anxiety and issues related to asthma. They were treated by fire rescue and transported as a precaution to area hospitals.”

The roof gave way shortly before 10 a.m., said district spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion.

After the collapse, the sprinkler system burst and caused flooding, according to an email from the district

Those in the school at the time—184 students and 55 faculty—walked to nearby Northeast High. Attendance on campus at both schools is lower than normal, because of Covid-19 concerns; many students are enrolled in remote instruction.

The cause of the collapse is unknown, Concepcion said.

The school is one of more than 100 under construction as part of the Broward County district’s $800 million bond program, which has been plagued by delays and mismanagement since voters passed it in 2014.

One complaint has been that the district has renovated weight rooms and libraries at schools with failing roofs. The Rickards library is one that had already received new furniture, according to recent photos on the district bond program website.

A statewide grand jury is looking into roofing inspections as part of its investigation on school safety, security and corruption issues in Broward County and other districts.

In an interim report released in December, the grand jury accused the district’s building department of sabotaging the bond program. It recommends abolishing the department and turning inspections over to county or municipal inspections departments.

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