Parents express safety concerns about newly renovated Hickman Mills school

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - There are safety concerns about a new multi-million dollar Hickman Mills school.

The revamped Ervin Early Learning Center opened last week, but one mom said it’s not safe for her young kids.

Quadruplets Caleb, Abby, Elijah and Ellie keep their mom, Rebecca Ishum, very busy. Born premature, all four have special learning needs.

When they started pre-kindergarten at the new school, Ishum thought they'd get their educational needs, including a speech therapist.

“They did not have one yet so we started looking into that, and that's when we started to realize there was a lot more that was missing or undone at the school,” Ishum said.

Ishum said the school didn’t have cleaning supplies. She took pictures of full sized toilets in the brand new school full of children under the age of six.

Most recently, Ishum found a girl left unattended.

“She looked like she was about four-years-old, in a wheelchair, crying, struggling to try to wheel herself down the hallway. Someone had left her; she had no idea where she was going,” she said.

The early learning center project cost the Hickman Mills District $9 million.

41 Action News Investigators uncovered ethical issues with the over-budget contract in July .

Superintendent of Hickman Mills Schools, Dr. Dennis Carpenter, denied our initial requests for answers, so we went to a public school board meeting to get a response about Rebecca's concerns.

The Superintendent explained he saw all of her concerns on Ishum’s Facebook post.

“Because of those comments and what I thought might be an issue with students, we immediately sent three administrators over there to check into the complaints, and after checking into those complaints I would just tell you 99 percent of it was unsubstantiated,” Carpenter replied.

Ishum also took pictures of her children's pre-kindergarten classrooms. They show rows of boxes stacked on top of one another.

“I would just tell you that some of those pictures were not classrooms that were used as regular classroom spaces one was a storage area,” Carpenter said.

Ishum said she just wants a safe school for her kids.

“I think the idea [of the early learning school] was good, I think it was very poorly executed, it was executed in a matter that was far too hasty,” Ishum said.

Carpenter said the learning center is a four-phase project. They’ve completed one.

He also said the district has four speech therapists that rotate to different schools.

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