NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has apologised to parents at Newcastle East Public School for her department's handling of the school's asbestos crisis.
"I'm not happy with the way this has been handled," she said.
"I'm a parent and if I turned up at my daughter's school and was given the sort of information that you were, I would be worried."
About 200 parents and residents attended an emotion-charged information session on Monday night to hear from an independent hygienist, health experts and department staff who sought to shed some much-needed light on how the contamination had occurred and what had been done to rectify it.
While experts tried to focus on the fact that the school had been declared safe, many parents were more concerned about the potential health effects of past exposure.
It was a question that neither the health or education representatives admitted they were able to answer with any certainty.
One distressed parent asked whether her child needed to be included on the dust diseases register.
"Do we have to wait for 20 years to see if our child is going to get sick?," she said.
The health department's representative advised there was little point testing children for asbestos exposure because of the length of time it takes for the disease to show up in the body.
Many parents also vented their fury at being deliberately misled about the contamination threat at the school.
One parent said he only allowed his daughter to remain at the school for the last few weeks of last term after receiving an assurance that the school was not contaminated.
Another said he felt betrayed.
"The information we have been given is at best hollow and at worst it has been lies," the man said to audience's applause.
"It has lacked transparency and doesn't reflect the values of the department. We expect better."
It was also revealed that principal Mick McCann had attempted to delay the school's opening but was overruled by department officials.
Mr McCann's concerns were reflected by staff who were first advised of the situation when they arrived at work last Monday.
Adding to existing concerns about the way which the work was carried out, new allegations emerged that a contractor involved in the project was not licensed to handle friable asbestos.
While unaware of the claim, Ms Mitchell said she would investigate the allegation.
Hygienist Josh Trahar said the department had taken 215 composite samples, which comprised 2500 individual samples, in an 'unprecedented' effort to identify contamination.
He said the resulting small number of positive samples indicated the level of contamination found in the school was no higher than would be expected to be found in the wider community.
He also defended the destruction of items found within the contaminated areas.
"In time I'm hoping that this will be seen as a positive thing because the Department of Education has spared no expense to ensure the school environment is safe,' he said.
The Minster gave an undertaking that all of the teaching resources that had been destroyed would be replaced.
She also promised that every question raised at the two-hour information session would be responded to in writing within 48 hours.
School Council president Lisa Piefke said she was particularly relieved to hear that the asbestos discovered in the roof cavity was in clumps and not in a form that could enter the lungs.
She said she felt the overall outcome of the evening had been positive.
"There were obviously emotional parents there who were rightly upset about how they had been treated by the department," Ms Piefke said.
"Generally I think everyone walked away appreciative of the fact that the Minister had come up and brought her senior bureaucrats along to provide answers.
"I think everyone wants this mess fixed and to move forward."
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said he would pursue the matter.
"Disappointingly there were more questions than answers tonight," Mr Crakanthorp said.
"The focus needs to be giving this school community some peace of mind and I am calling for the all known asbestos to be removed from the school."
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