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Independent Voice

Anderson Construction Woes Anger Parents

Jan 24, 2024 12:16PM ● By Debra Dingman, photo by Debra Dingman

Parents and teachers from Anderson Elementary School blasted Dixon Unified School District Superintendent for lack of communication about a main electrical panel blowing and leaving the campus without power resulting in generators being brought in and making students sick.

DIXON, CA (MPG) – Frustrated and angry parents of students at Anderson Elementary School filled the Dixon School Board Meeting last week demanding answers and explanations as to why they weren’t informed of the school’s plan to deal with safety concerns after an electrical main panel caught fire causing all power loss to the school.

The panel arched and smoked about 4:30 p.m. on the day before children were to go back to school after the winter break so at first, the school was closed for three days, according to parent Tacy Curry.

“Then they brought in three huge generators that go through about 200 gallons of diesel per day and placed them near the classrooms, so the children are getting sick and getting headaches from the fumes,” she said. “There has been flat out, no communication. They are not telling us what’s happening. It reeks of lack of transparency. “

Dixon Unified School District Superintendent Brian Dolan gave a report on the situation stating that they did not know the cause of the electrical outage or what happened.

“It was similar to the emergency when a gun was brought on campus. It was a fast-moving situation. We’d communicate what we knew for sure and sometimes there is a delay in communication,” he explained. “Our biggest tool is the Parent Square app as it is most efficient.” He defended himself stating that he did not issue a ‘gag order’ to teachers as some social media commentators said and clarified that he told them to refer people to the District.

“Sometimes the info [on social media] is not accurate and sometimes the info is not accurate at all,” he said. A Fire Inspector came and found that the fire alarms were not operating. The system was checked, and the batteries were not charging so the school has a ‘Fire Watch’ in place 24-hours a day with trained security staff.

Filing an official complaint through the Williams Complaint Act, Kelly Pidgeon James, parent of an Anderson student and PTO President, cited that it was only by luck that the fire occurred while a worker was walking by and able to report it before further damage.

“This incident highlights how the negligent maintenance and lack of modernization and repairs at Anderson pose a threat,” she wrote. “The DUSD is not providing safe facilities or safe learning environments at Anderson.”

Dolan recommended the students stay at Anderson for the next 30 days and February 16-19, the students be moved with all their necessary materials from Anderson to most likely Tremont or Gretchen Higgins.

“None of us want to return to any kind of remote learning. That is a disastrous situation in my mind. But we will not return to Anderson this year,” he responded to Board Trustee Julian Cueva’s question about what plan they were going to implement.

“Nothing is off the table,” Cuevas told the audience.

The only set plan by the end of the Board meeting was to have another meeting this week. In a lengthy public comment period, the electrical panel needed to replace the old one is apparently part of supply chain issues from China that are being experienced throughout California, said Mike Monson, an Electrician whose wife is a teacher.

Mike Hamilton, whose business works with generators, said that there are 100-foot cords and that the generators could be moved further away from the classrooms.

About 25 parents carrying signs protested in front of the school last Friday and made the nightly newscasts. Phone calls to the DUSD were not returned by press time about a reported 25 parents withdrawing their children to the DUSD Distance Learning Program since.

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