Consternation over the health situation at the three SMMUSD campuses has grown among teachers and parents in the past few weeks because of what the community and teachers deems as "uninformative" responses from SMMUSD.
PEER said the group of teachers is also frustrated that hard data from initial air testing has not been released to the public.
The teachers' demands are listed as:
-A site assessment covering the entire three-school campus to determine the extent and hopefully the source of toxic chemicals;
-Examination of lead, arsenic, benzene and all of the chemicals found, not just PCBs and pesticides; and
-To examine all sources of exposure there must also be soil testing...not just the less reliable air testing inside classrooms.
“It is utterly irresponsible for the district to further delay investigations to discover the true extent of the contamination on campus,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, noting that an environmental consultant engaged by Malibu/Cabrillo parents has suggested actions similar to those urged by the teachers. “By taking evasive half-measures, the district is only fanning fears and breeding distrust.”
The district has not released any hard data from its limited testing. In a November 17th letter to staff, Superintendent Susan Lyon stated that airborne PCB levels were “well below” EPA health guidelines. This was not true, however. Ms. Lyons then had the Nov. 17th letter pulled from the district website and issued another letter on Nov. 22nd admitting that PCBs in some areas exceeded EPA “trigger levels” but “pose no acute threat” in classrooms. But, this made little sense since PCBs pose a chronic, long-term threat not a short-term exposure danger.
“The district is only compounding its potential liability by trying to ignore rather than investigate what is really present on campus and why,” Dinerstein added, noting that the district has allocated $30,000 to hire a law firm with funds that could have been used for soil testing.
The SMMUSD has decided to "lawyer up" instead of doing more testing:
TO: BOARD OF EDUCATION ACTION/CONSENT
FROM: SANDRA LYON
JANECE L. MAEZ
APPROVAL OF INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
RECOMMENDATION NO. A.02
It is recommended that the Board of Education enter into an agreement with the following
These contracts are included in the 2013
2014 budget. Contractor/ Contract Dates
Pillsbury [Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
(formerly Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro) ]
11/1/13 to 6/30/14
Not to exceed: $30,000
To provide legal counsel regarding environmental issues at Site
Malibu High School.
Funding District 25 (Capital Facility Fund)