Healthy School Environments

Healthy School Environments

NYLPI's 'Healthy School Environments' campaign works to ensure safe and healthy environments in which New York City's youth can thrive as they learn. We are particularly concerned with ensuring the environmental health of schools built in low-income communities of color, where environmental hazards are most prevalent and pose the greatest risks to children's health.

Below are publications that capture lessons we have learned in our school environmental health campaigns. We are also available to talk with communities about how to work on school siting and construction issues. For more information contact


NYLPI thanks everyone for all their hard work in reaching out to the Senate to advocate for the rights of students with disabilities during the confirmation hearings for education secretary.

Although Secretary DeVos was confirmed, it was by the smallest margin possible – a tie-breaking vote cast by the Vice President – and our voices were heard.  We must maintain our advocacy and be even more vigilant than before in ensuring that our children receive the appropriate education to which they are entitled.  We must fight for:

  • An excellent education for all;
  • Enforcing the rights of students with disabilities under federal and state special education laws and federal and state non-discrimination laws;
  • Including students with disabilities in the general education classroom wherever possible;
  • Providing appropriate educational supports to students with disabilities;
  • Enabling students with disabilities to transition from Early Intervention to post-secondary life, and every step along the way;
  • Eliminating discriminatory disciplinary practices;
  • Eliminating seclusion and restraint;
  • Full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA);
  • Ensuring that IDEA funding is not used for voucher programs; and,
  • Eliminating discrimination against students with disabilities in voucher programs and charter schools.

NYLPI is re-doubling its commitment to children with disabilities and we hope we can count on you to work with us in this critical effort for our most precious citizens.

The City is making progress towards removal of PCBs from NYC public schools. However, there is more work to be done if we are to truly achieve PCB free schools in NYC. NYLPI applauds Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz for advocating for a more intensive and transparent PCB removal process.

To read the New York Daily News coverage, click here.

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s Sascha Murillo, Health Justice Community Organizer, discusses the connection between physical education and academic learning.


Safe School Renovations.School renovations are critical for promoting healthy school environments. But a major construction project can create its own health risks. NYLPI’s Safe School Renovation manual is a “know your rights” guide that can help parents protect children’s health during school construction.

Learn more...


Safe School Siting: A technical manual.  Because of the scarcity of affordable, clean land in New York City, schools are often sited on property contaminated with toxins. Proper remedial action and oversight is needed to protect the health of children and school staff from these environmental hazards.  NYLPI’s Safe School Siting manual is designed to provide communities with the legal and technical tools to ensure that our schools are environmentally safe.

Learn more...


Past Campaigns: 

Press Conference

PS 51 (Bronx New School): This school was shut down in 2011 after the Department of Education discovered unsafe levels of a known carcinogen (trichloroethylene) in the building.  This contamination was linked to the building’s former use as a factory.  The City failed to test the building properly when the school was first opened in the 1990s, and then failed to inform parents or school staff for over six months after the contamination was finally uncovered during the lease renewal process.  NYLPI has worked with parents on City Council legislation that, if passed, would ensure that parents are alerted immediately when an environmental hazard is discovered in their school.

Mott Haven School Campus in the Bronx:  When the City announced plans to build its largest school campus on a contaminated brownfield site, NYLPI worked with community members to demand an independent review of cleanup plans, and to ensure that the community’s proposed improvements were implemented.  For more on the Mott Haven story, see the chapter on “Community Involvement” in NYLPI’s guide to Safe School Siting practices.

Soundview Educational Campus in the Bronx:  The School Construction Authority leased this building belonging to a former electronics manufacturer without any community input, despite unsafe levels of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxic heavy metals at the site. Through NYLPI’s campaign with local community members, we discovered the “leasing loophole” in New York State law, which the SCA uses to avoid a public hearing or environmental review when it leases property rather than constructing a new school building.  NYLPI is working on proposed City Council legislation that would help close this loophole by requiring the DOE to share environmental test results when it opens a new school in a leased building.