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Parents protest preschool opening at city school building

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - A group demonstrating outside Norrell Elementary School in Richmond is upset with the Richmond School Board for reopening the building for a city pre-school program.

Parents For Life 2012 planned to demonstrate outside the building until 4:00 p.m. Monday.

The school, which was built on a landfill, closed in 2006 due to environmental concerns. When the school board decided to reopen the school, it emphasized there is no danger to the health of students.

"This is the only school in the system we are discussing having Methane detectors in, to ensure the safety of students," said protestor Art Burton. "It has been well documented as having both gas as well as heavy metal problems; as well as mold, as well as roaches and rat and infestation. We just think it's time for the city do better by the children."

Teachers, like Sabria Thompson, believe the school is safe for the 250 preschoolers who entered the building today.

“This school is very safe,” said Andy Hawkins, Chief Operating Officer for Richmond Schools. Hawkins said testing over a six-week period found nothing dangerous.

"The one thing I want to tell people, is we take this very seriously," said Richmond School Board member Chandra Smith. "I would never put my family, your family or anybody's family in harm's way." Smith told CBS 6 reporter Jerrita Patterson that she had cousins who attended the pre-school program.