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Ex-Atlanta school administrator charged in Pennsylvania asbestos case

By Vanessa McCray, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

A former Atlanta Public Schools administrator faces criminal charges in Pennsylvania for allegedly failing to protect students from lead and asbestos exposure while she served as superintendent of a school district there.

Alexis Kirijan, who led the Scranton, Pennsylvania public school system from 2015 to 2019, was charged Wednesday with multiple counts of endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment. She later appeared in court for arraignment.

“Dr. Kirijan has dedicated her career to educating children. We will defend her against these allegations,” said her attorney Frank Nocito in a statement provided to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

An investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police and the state’s attorney general office found that she and two other officials, who also face charges, failed to fix drinking water and asbestos problems in school buildings despite testing that revealed issues.

Kirijan previously worked for APS. She was hired in 2008 and resigned in 2014 as the Atlanta district’s chief strategy and development officer.

The charges stemming from the lead and asbestos investigation are connected to her time in Scranton. A Pennsylvania police criminal complaint lists Kirijan’s current address as being in Atlanta.

A Pennsylvania grand jury recommended that criminal charges be filed against Kirijan as well as the Scranton district’s maintenance supervisor and a former director of operations. 

“The subjects of this investigation had a legal duty to care for students, were repeatedly advised by experts of dangerous levels of lead in drinking water, and they did nothing to fix it,” said Shapiro in a written statement. “The willful coverup of the lead and asbestos problems throughout the Scranton School District during the former superintendent’s and chief operating officer’s time in leadership was, as the grand jury decided, criminal.”