EPA Issues Notice of Violation to ACCEL Schools and Seeks Immediate Action to Address Asbestos and Lead Paint Concerns at Schools in Youngstown, Niles and Warren, Ohio

Today U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation under the Toxic Substances Control Act to ACCEL Schools Ohio LLC for asbestos and lead paint concerns at three of its public charter schools that may present hazards to students, faculty and staff. EPA discovered these issues during inspections at: Youngstown Academy of Excellence (1408 Rigby St., Youngstown); Niles Preparatory Academy (45 Chestnut Ave., Niles); STEAM Academy of Warren (261 Elm Road, Warren).

ACCEL must investigate the risk of exposure to lead-based paint and asbestos hazards, address materials which pose an imminent danger and monitor any other asbestos-containing material and lead-based paint at the three schools. EPA will also require ACCEL to prohibit anyone from entering affected areas until abatement work is finished.

“Protecting children’s health is a top priority for the agency – every child deserves a safe and healthy learning environment completely free of asbestos and lead paint hazards,” said EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore. “EPA will use its authority to make sure that ACCEL takes all actions necessary to safeguard all students and staff before returning to the schools.”

Invoking TSCA, EPA has subpoenaed ACCEL for records regarding Asbestos Hazard Emergency Act, or AHERA, compliance and lead-based paint renovations in all its schools located in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. AHERA requires public school districts, charter schools and schools affiliated with religious institutions to inspect their schools for asbestos, prepare management plans and take action to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards. AHERA also requires schools to notify parents about potential hazards inside the buildings.

ACCEL is a public charter school system that operates 77 in-person charter schools, primarily in Ohio, and 15 online schools across the nation. In March 2024, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency received a complaint with concerns about asbestos at Youngstown Academy of Excellence. The state conducted a visual inspection shortly after and notified EPA of the complaint and inspection findings due to EPA’s authority under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, or AHERA. In April 2024, EPA conducted its own visual inspections at Youngstown Academy of Excellence, Niles Preparatory Academy and STEAM Academy of Warren. As a result of the inspections, Ohio EPA and EPA learned ACCEL schools do not have required asbestos management plans, and informed ACCEL representatives of legal requirements, provided information about hazards and recommended hiring licensed and trained contractors.

The three schools are located in communities with environmental justice concerns. Environmental justice is the fair treatment of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to environmental laws, regulations, and policies. 

Next Steps:

Blood lead testing can accurately measure children’s exposure to lead, including lead paint. EPA is working with state and local health officials to establish resources for impacted families. Concerned parents and guardians can contact their pediatrician or primary health care provider for information on blood lead testing.

EPA will ensure communication between families, teachers and staff and the local health departments while the abatement work is ongoing.

For information on lead regulation, exposure or potential effects, contact the National Lead Information Center Hotline.

For more information on asbestos exposure, visit the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry asbestos webpage or visit EPA’s website for information on asbestos and school buildings.

To report a possible violation of the AHERA and Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule requirements, please use EPA’s enforcement website for Enforcement and Compliance History Online, ECHO.

More information about the notice of violation to ACCEL will be posted on our website.

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