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Parents raise $35,000 for school playground climbing frame, which is promptly shut down by health & safety inspectors

Feb 11, 2013, 3:09 PM EDT

A climbing frame Getty Images

We called them jungle gyms: today they’re known as climbing frames, I guess. At any rate, a parents group in Fairfax County, Va., raised $35,000 to buy and install a new one at Stratford Landing Elementary School, working with the school facilities department to ensure it met all codes and conditions. But just after it was opened at recess, school district safety inspectors swooped in and declared the equipment unsafe. It now has police caution tape draped on it and is off limits.

Not only that, but the school district says it’s going to spend $135,000 to replace it and upgrade the entire playground, according to the Washington Post.

Parents are not amused.

“We have $35,000 wrapped up in caution tape,” said Eleanor Whitaker, mother of second- and sixth-graders at Stratford Landing, in the Alexandria section of Fairfax, near Mount Vernon.

“Funding a new playground is costing taxpayer money,” Whitaker said. “It would be a tremendous waste of money to pull the equipment out.”

So we spend $165,000 of taxpayer’s money to complete a $35,000 job, all because of poor communication? Yes, kids, that’s the American way.

In a written report, the inspector found that among other safety issues, parts of the structure were too tall. One part of the equipment is 94 inches above the ground, 10 inches higher than the school system allows. The report said that deviating from the school system’s playground protocols “places users at an increased life-safety risk” and that the Evos system could lead to head injuries and neck entrapment. “The equipment should be removed from the property,” according to the report.

I suggest encasing all the children in bubble wrap during recess, and have a teacher gently roll them around the playground until the bell rings.

  1. alligatorsnapper - Feb 11, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Maybe some of the parents could sneak over in the middle of the night, using the headlamps of their trucks and cars, bring cutting torches and welding rigs, and cut down the height and change other aspects of the climbing frame to comply with the regs of the school and system? Sounds like a movie plot or scene, doesn’t it?

    Maybe that is just too sensible, rather than paying the huge tab for a playground re-do.

  2. metalhead65 - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    a perfect example of left wing lunacy run amok. they want to spend twice as much removing it and putting up a new playground? sheer stupidity! these parents raised the money themselves for their kids but the beuracracy tells them they know what’s best for them and their kids and want to spend taxpayer money on it? thank God I grew up back when I did when you could actually have fun on the playground and if you got scratched or cut you had the teacher or nurse pour some peroxide and slap a band on it and you were back out playing again. now they close off the area where it happened and have investigations to determine if it is safe.

    • joegolfer - Feb 14, 2013 at 1:46 AM

      @metalhead: Perplexed as to why this is “left wing” lunacy. How do we know that this wasn’t some subversive right wing, tea party plot (just kidding here, folks).
      I hope that the parent’s can find a way to lower the equipment so it suits the safety standards, perhaps sawing off the legs or burying them into the ground, so that the children can enjoy their recess time.

      • metalhead65 - Feb 14, 2013 at 6:31 AM

        we can petty much leave out the right wing on this since they are not about restricting anybody’s freedom including the right o have fun by kids at recess. in fact I am shocked they still are allowed to have recess as I am sure somebody is offended by it. the fact the parents went thru all the channels and it was approved only to have it blocked after it was finished leads mean to believe it was the result of the left.I am sure the parents had it designed and built so that it would be to high and dangerous for the kids to use. imagine the poor kids who have to only look at it instead of playing on it because some agency decided it was to dangerous. the fact they want to tear everything up and start over is a pretty good indication it is the result of the left since it involves wasting tax money on something not needed.

  3. nsun31 - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    Why not just raise the play surface up ten inches? I’m sure it can be done relatively cheaply with that recycled tire mulch they use now.