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After partial roof collapse, inspectors check safety of more Broward schools’ media centers

After partial roof collapse, inspectors check safety of more Broward schools’ media centers
After partial roof collapse, inspectors check safety of more Broward schools’ media centers

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County Public Schools has inspectors checking on the structural safety of five schools’ media centers after a partial roof collapse at one of them.

James S. Rickards Middle School at 6000 NE 9th Ave., in Oakland Park, was evacuated on Friday after a partial roof collapse in the media center’s $10.5 million renovation project.

Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie said on Wednesday during a school board meeting that the district took preventive measures as soon as they learned of the situation at James S. Rickards Middle.

Workers inspect the roof damage on Wednesday at a Broward County public school in Oakland Park. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

“On Friday, I instructed those schools to proactive close down their media centers and adjacent classrooms until those areas undergo a structural safety inspection,” Runcie said.

The four other schools are Apollo Middle School at 6800 Arthur St., in Hollywood; Lauderdale Lakes Middle School at 3911 NW 30th Ave., in Lauderdale Lakes; Plantation Middle School at 6600 W. Sunrise Blvd., in Plantation; and Lauderhill 6-12 STEM-MED Magnet School at 1901 NW 49th Ave., in Lauderhill.

This aerial photo shows the partial roof collapse on Friday at James S. Rickards Middle School in Fort Lauderdale.

Runcie said three firms are conducting independent investigations to figure out what caused the structure at James S. Rickards Middle to collapse. Severe weather caused more damage to the school’s media center.

“Part of the roof had been compromised and over the weekend another portion of the same slab fell down,” Runcie said.

Oakland Park Fire-Rescue personnel took a few James S. Rickards Middle School students who complained of suffering from nausea and headaches after a partial roof collapse on Friday.

Anna Fusco, the president of the Broward Teachers Union, said that while no one was seriously injured at James S. Rickards Middle School the experience was traumatic.

“Kids were trapped. Kids got hurt,” Fusco said during the school board meeting. “Teachers were trapped. Teachers got hurt.”

Runcie said he is aware of the situation and he directed staff to work with those who were affected.

Roof collapse causes a scare at Broward middle school

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About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.