Teacher Won Fight Against Paper Hazard

A South Bay teacher declared victory Thursday in her effort to improve fire safety in hundreds of classrooms.

In home video taken last December paper covered the walls in classrooms at Greg Rogers school in Chula Vista.

The paper was a fire hazard according to Mary Martinez who teaches kindergarten at the school.

She urged the school district to follow a state code that says only 20 percent of wall space can be covered with artwork or teaching material.

But district officials said that safety rule did not apply.

Martinez wouldn't back down. She prodded the fire department to inspect Greg Rogers. On Tuesday, a fire marshal visited the school and noted a violation, according to Fire Inspector Justin Gipson and it was added into the report a day later. 

The district has now reversed itself, and will enforce the "20 percent rule" at Greg Rogers Elementary and other schools that do not have automatic sprinklers, while schools with automatic sprinkler systems will be allowed to have 50 percent of their wall space covered with paper.

For Martinez, this is a victory for students and their parents.  "They deserve to be safe and secure where they're at for most of the day and the parents can leave knowing it's safe," she said.

"These are our children, and this is something we can't slack off on. We have to do the right thing for them," said Chula Vista Fire Marshal Justin Gipson.

Inspectors will return to Greg Rogers elementary in ten days, to make sure there is no excess paper on those classroom walls.

Martinez believes fire safety is especially important at her school, where some of the special education students are confined to wheelchairs.


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