Breaking News: Senate Indian Affairs Committee to Hold Hearing Next Week on Safety Issues at BIA Schools.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-NM, today announced that the Senate Indian Affairs Committee will hold a hearing next week on the massive health and safety deficiencies uncovered at Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools. The hearing, titled “Does Indian School Safety Get a Passing Grade?” is scheduled for Thursday at 9:30 a.m. EDT.

Udall requested the hearing several months ago as part of his proposal to develop a “Marshall Plan” to eliminate the backlog in construction and maintenance of facilities that impact all parts of life in Indian Country – and ensure the safety of all Native children attending BIA schools. Currently, many schools within the BIA system have serious structural deficiencies, are not handicapped accessible, and are in violation of building and fire codes.

The deficiencies in BIA schools were further underscored in a recent series by KRQE Albuquerque’s veteran investigative reporter, Larry Barker, which found that BIA has done nothing to remedy the situation despite repeated requests by officials from schools throughout the system.

“If these problems were occurring anywhere else in America, the public outcry would be enormous,” Udall said. “The unfortunate reality is that the safety concerns facing children in our country’s Native communities are all too often ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ It’s my hope that this hearing will be the first step in remedying this unacceptable situation.”

In addition to the hearing, earlier this year Udall criticized BIA plans to cut more than $8 million in funding for future school construction and maintenance. In an effort to restore and increase funding for school construction, Udall and several of his colleagues sent a letter to the Budget Committee requesting that the Bureau of Indian Affairs Education Construction account be raised from the president’s request of $53 million to the 2003 funding level of $293 million, the highest amount in the last seven years. Last year, Udall joined several of his Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama with recommendations on funding levels for tribal infrastructure projects to be included in his recovery package. This included a recommended $658 million for construction at tribal schools and colleges.

Our hats are off to U.S. Senator Tom Udall and KRQE Albuquerque’s veteran investigative reporter, Larry Barker.


haskellnews commentary 05/05/2010


One response to “Breaking News: Senate Indian Affairs Committee to Hold Hearing Next Week on Safety Issues at BIA Schools.

  1. goldpurple6 (anonymous) says…

    and while they are at it they should also throw Haskell and the Bureau of Indian Education leadership issues in the mix as well! Has Senator Roberts office ever received a report from Echohawk yet? Echohawk has a lot of issues to deal that fall under education and the Bureau of Indian Education. One can only hope the selection of the new director of the Bureau of Indian Education is qualified and not just because they meet the minimum qualifications and are ‘friends’ of the selecting officials. How much longer can an organization continue to be ineffective much less a Federal agency funded by taxpayers dollars? Where is the accountability?

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