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New Report Finds Safety Concerns at BIA Schools

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Cronkite News

28 schools on the Navajo Nation overseen by the Bureau of Indian Affairs are in poor condition. A new federal report found many BIA schools aren’t being properly monitored for safety and health issues. Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports.

All BIA schools are required to undergo a safety inspection every year. The U.S. Government Accountability Office however, found a quarter of Navajo schools weren’t inspected in 2015.

The report says the lack of inspections endangers students and staff, by increasing the chances of fire, gas leaks and other threats.

Tommy Lewis, the superintendent for schools on the Navajo Nation says the longer the BIA delays inspections, the bigger the problem gets, which puts students in further risk.

The GAO report found, a third of the BIA’s 185 schools nationwide weren’t inspected last year and 54 haven’t been inspected in the last four years.

Officials with the BIA say the school inspection backlog is due to a staff shortage, low funding and heavy workloads. 

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