BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Banks Middle School was closed for consolidation in 2007.
The building has plagued an East Lake community since it was closed. Overgrown tress, shrubs and grass don’t do much to hide the points of entry of vandals and trespassers. Locks and chains on the gates haven’t been successful in keeping people out.
Richard Rutledge, lives in the area. The building has become a political football for Rutledge and others hoping to grab a seat on the Birmingham City Council to represent District 2.
Rutledge wants to turn the old school into a performing arts center. Talks of what to do with the building are what prompted members of the Banks Alumni Association see what kind of condition the building is it. The members found paperwork scattered throughout the building.
Rutledge accompanied the alums to get video inside the building, as they sifted through the documents, personal files, health forms and attendance records with social security numbers were discovered. The group was stunned that the building and the documents inside were so accessible.
“Every gate was open, doors were unlocked, you don’t have to turn a door knob to get from the street to the back of the building where these documents are,” said Rutledge.
The building was once owned by the Birmingham City School System. It has since been acquired by the City of Birmingham.
Virgina Volker, representative for District 2 on the Birmingham Board of Education was shocked to learn of the discovery.
“Frankly I am as upset as I’m sure some of the people who went to Banks school are.”
Volker said at the time of the consolidation there were procedures in place to secure sensitive material. She feels someone dropped the ball.
“I am just really disgusted that nobody went through the building and checked and removed what should have been removed, so it really raises a question.”
Volker says she’s been told there will be increased patrols around the building by the Birmingham Police Department over the next few days.
Michelle Chapman, spokeswoman for the Birmingham City Schools System released this statement to CBS42:
“The city of Birmingham has owned the former Banks Middle School building for several years. The Birmingham City School System will coordinate with the city to determine what, if any, student records remain in the building and to take those records to a secure storage location.”