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Law forces schools to remove playground equipment


LIMA — Schools are removing some swings and merry-go-rounds from playgrounds to comply with a new law aimed at protecting students from safety hazards.

The changes are forcing schools to spend more money, but few are complaining.
“At first, you look at it and kind of shrug your shoulders, but it has made us a better district,” said Mark Miller, business manager for the Elida school district. “We are all for it.”

The district removed a merry-go-round at one school, and some climbing equipment because it was too close to a slide.
“Our playgrounds look a lot different than they did when they kids left in the spring,” Miller said.

The changes are being made in response to “Jarod’s Law” — named after a 6-year-old boy killed at a school when a folding cafeteria table fell on him.

Schools with older buildings face the most work to comply, but all schools will be affected in some way. Among requirements, all are being told to lock up cleaning materials and chemicals used in labs.

Elida will spend about $20,000 out of its general fund to do things such as grinding down sidewalks to prevent students from tripping on hazards.

Schools in Ottawa will spend about $7,000 at two elementary buildings. Upgrades include adding pea gravel under playground equipment to provide more cushion. The district also bought two water heaters for one building so that hot water will be available at all sinks.

The Legislature passed “Jarod’s Law” in 2005.

Jarod Bennett died two years earlier after a 290-pound table being wheeled by another child tipped over and fractured the boy’s skull in a school gymnasium in Lebanon. The boy’s parents began pushing for school safety inspections after learning that the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned of the dangers of the design of the cafeteria tables a decade before their son died. 

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