April 12, 2011

California Watch Reveals Public Schools’ Seismic Safety Issues

After a 19-month investigation, the California Watch staff produced a three-day series “On Shaky Ground” exposing how nearly 1,100 school building projects remained structurally unsound despite supervisors’ warnings.

The first part of the series showed how top officials at the Division of the State Architect failed to enforce the Field Act, which guaranteed buildings were sound the day students stepped into the school. http://californiawatch.org/k-12/lax-oversight-school-construction-raises-doubts-about-earthquake-safety-9537

Part two explained how nearly two-thirds of inspectors who had work-related deficiencies kept their jobs and worse yet, these inspectors missed crucial safety defects. http://californiawatch.org/k-12/troubled-school-inspectors-slip-through-state-s-oversight-9457

The final part of the series illustrated how schools cannot access money to fix their buildings because of bureaucratic issues. http://californiawatch.org/node/9535/

The story initially began as a safety issues piece remembering the 20th anniversary of the Loma Pieta earthquake. But after scouring thousands of PDFs, creating a database and receiving confidential records, the California Watch creating the series that included nearly 20,000 words of text and over a dozen videos.

California Watch is a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting.