KIPP Charter company is pushing through with plans to build a new charter school in the Walnut Park neighborhood of Southeast Los Angeles where there are already six schools within a mile radius. On Thursday, Walnut Park educators, families, and community members held a rally to call out the serious health and safety risks of KIPP’s plan.

Last year, KIPP charter company was denied construction of a new school in the City of Cudahy by the LA Superior Court for violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The lot they attempted to build on was found to have arsenic levels at 200 times what is deemed safe.

KIPP Charter company then started construction of a new school in Walnut Park, again without completing CEQA assessment requirements. The lot where KIPP Charter company is building was previously a recycling plant and is zoned for commercial use. Without soil samples and a rigorous environmental assessment, KIPP Charter company is endangering the lives of students and educators.

“There was a steel mill and a battery plant across the street that was forced to shut down,” UTLA South Area Chair Aydé Bravo said. “Because there were no environmental reviews, it’s potentially toxic and going to endanger the health of students.”

The lot is also on the corner of a five-lane intersection in an area where there is a high rate of traffic fatalities and next to a truck repair shop, posing serious risk to students, educators, and families walking to and from school. 

Walnut Park ES Chapter Chair Clare Rodriguez says pedestrian safety is already an urgent priority in the neighborhood and that an additional school would make things worse. “If parents are turning into the school and trucks are coming in and out right here, how is that safe for kids walking?” Rodriguez says.