Providence community group nearly thwarted on project

By: Alexandra Cowley

acowley@abc6.com

 

A service group in Providence trying to repaint an
elementary school, almost gave up, because it had to go through so much red tape.

Project Night Vision thought they had everything they needed to give the inside of The Harry Kizirian Elementary School a fresh coat of paint. They had the paint, the brushes, and donated food to feed
volunteers. But come time to get to work today, they didn't have enough
hands, because of a new requirement by the school district that everybody get a background check.

When students at Harry Kizirian Elementary return to school next week,
they'll be greeted by freshly painted walls. But before volunteers could use the blue painters
tape, they had to cut through a lot of red tape.

Kobi Dennis of Project Night Vision has been the leader of
countless community projects.

Dennis says, “They're taking their time off to drop off paint,
they're taking their time off to actually paint, and this is what they have to
deal with.”

Dennis says this is the first time his volunteers have had to get
background checks.

“I'm telling them they cannot enter the building unless
they brandish a BCI check, I don't get it,” said Dennis.

Dennis says he'd been organizing an effort to repaint the
inside of the classrooms at the empty elementary school for weeks, and wasn't notified by the school department until the last
minute, that his volunteers would have to be screened.

“I just feel like it's a smack in the face for people
like myself that are working out here everyday,” explained Dennis.

The school department declined an interview on camera, but
tells ABC 6 news that this is in fact a new policy for all volunteer groups
within the district. The policy was put in place after some workers were exposed to asbestos and
lead paint. That's why the Providence School Department requires groups to have
insurance as well.

Dennis understands, but wishes he had more time to prepare
his volunteers.

“I agree with what they're trying to do for the
children of our city, but I also know that it's a community effort as well, and
we need to work together,” he said.

The School Department says the late notice was miscommunication.

Project Night Vision completed 4 classrooms today, they hope to paint the rest tomorrow.

(C) WLNE-TV 2013