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To close or not to close?

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - While students continue to raise concerns for their health and safety at Simon Sanchez High School, the Governor's Office and the Attorney General's Office butt heads on whether last weekend's assessment of the Yigo campus was good enough to deem the school structurally sound and keep doors open.

Despite his efforts to assist students at Sanchez High, AG Leonardo Rapadas may have overstepped his boundaries. It was last week Rapadas announced the revival of the School Safety Task Force as established by prior AG Alicia Limtiaco. Back then, this task force was responsible for the closure and ultimately rebuild of john f. Kennedy high school.

As we reported on Wednesday, Rapadas requested the task force meet with him on Friday to discuss the compiled findings from inspectors last week as well as announced his push for an "inspection" of the campus, not just an assessment. His plans, however, were intercepted by Adelup.

In a statement from Rapadas today, he tells KUAM, "Adelup informed us that we overstepped our boundaries with respect to contacting and coordinating the inspection of the SSHS campus with the regulatory agencies."

From here on, Rapadas has surrendered his authority for the school safety task force, but in his statement, hopes Adelup will reconsider.

Meanwhile, Governor Eddie Calvo's deputy press secretary Phil Leon Guerrero stands by last weekend's walkthrough of the school that deemed the campus "structurally sound." assessment or inspection, what regulatory agencies saw was not enough to validate a shutdown of the school. "These are the experts who go in and take a look. These are the experts who shut down Simon Sanchez High School in early 2011 and so to question their work and whether or not they're willing to close a school, they've closed it before and they are professionals. They can't turn a blind eye to eminent health and safety violations. If the school was fit to be closed, it would've been closed by now," he said.

Whoever he works with, DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez says what's most important is that the school's issues be addressed. The campus is set to close tomorrow for one day to allow for doe facilities and maintenance to make repairs through the weekend. "We're going to ask for additional resources to address the bigger projects and work with our governor and our legislature to get that done," he said.

While their school is closed on Friday, SSHS stakeholders are invited to meet with Adelup and regulatory agencies tomorrow morning at 9am.

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