Safety concerns rise after picture shows crowded stairwell at new Lamar High School

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HOUSTON – Students walked through the doors of Lamar High School for the first time Monday only to have trouble moving up and down the stairs efficiently. The issue prompted the school to request a meeting with the building's architect. 

What happened? 

Parents received an email from the principal Monday night telling them the school opened another stairwell Tuesday to help ease that congestion. School officials are now looking at plans to build another stairwell to help with the overcrowding. 

What students are saying? 

Some students told KPRC that the stairwell situation is not that bad and that its just a new school to get used to, while others say differently. 

A picture was sent to KPRC by a Lamar High School student that showed dozens of students packed into the school's main entrance stairwell Tuesday. The picture was even captioned, "This picture scares me." Students said they were told to use the emergency stairwells. 

"If you're going down you use the right side of the stairwell and if you're going up you use the other side, so they have it organized," said senior Reyna Carpio. 

"I'm safe. Sure the shoving is a little annoying like, 'Excuse you,' but it's fine," another student said. 

What is the school saying?

The school's principal assured parents that a new stairwell would be built to help ease congestion, but gave no specific date of when that stairwell would be ready to accommodate students. 

According to the Houston Independent School District website, project details for Lamar High School began in 2014, with construction for the $107 million project to be done by 2016. The school projected to house 2,800 to 3,100 students. 

HISD released the following statement Tuesday night: 

Lamar High School was inspected by the city to ensure safety and code compliance before it was allowed to open. Likewise, the building's design plans were approved, per city regulations, before construction. As with every new school year, hallway and stairwell traffic is not uncommon as students familiarize themselves with their campus and class schedule. This is especially true in a new school building as students and staff settle into their new home.  HISD looks forward to a successful school year. 

Channel 2 News has requested inspection reports from the Fire Marshal's Office for occupancy at Lamar High School. KPRC has not heard back from the fire marshal.

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