Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Fourth Reading: Silence before the Storm Season

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Fourth Reading: Silence before the Storm Season

Article excerpt

The silence is deafening.

Last week, this newspaper published a story in which a brave civil engineer - part of a group from the American Society of Civil Engineers - raised questions about the quality of the design and construction of the two schools destroyed by the May 2013 tornado.

University of Oklahoma professor Chris Ramseyer walked through the rubble of Briarwood Elementary School and saw things he didn't want to see.

In addition, this newspaper discovered that the same elementary school had been designed by an architecture and engineering firm with a very troubled past.

Because the school is part of the Moore Public Schools district, we sought to speak with its representatives. Those phone calls and emails remained unanswered. School officials remained silent.

Although neither the district's present administrators nor school board were responsible for the building's design and quality, the fact that those same officials have refused to say anything is disturbing.

True, school officials can rightfully say they were not responsible, but they can't say they were uninformed. In January, Ramseyer met with Moore Public Schools Superintendent Robert Romines and shared his findings.

Again, the district remained silent.

Through the original Briarwood school was designed in 1984, only 12 years later the school's architect and engineering firm, RGDC, got into trouble with two state boards. Two of the firm's founders - originally charged with gross negligence - were found guilty of practicing architecture beyond the scope of their competencies. A third partner was found guilty by the state board that governs civil engineers of practicing civil engineering without a license.

Just days after that announcement was made in 1996, Oklahoma City Manager Don Brown announced that officials would take a hard look at any building designed by the firm for the city. …

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