In a letter addressed to the school district superintendent and board of education Monday night, a coalition of parent and community organizations at Malibu High School requested that classes be moved from the campus's middle school building until it was proven to be safe from environmental contaminants. The request comes one day after it was revealed that a third of the Malibu High School faculty had expressed fears that potential environmental contaminants on campus may have caused a cancer cluster among teachers.
The organizations also requested the district hold a town hall meeting to inform parents of its plan to address the health concerns, as well as appoint a liaison to keep the organizations informed and respond to questions. It requested a written response from the school district by 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"We…write to address the crisis at Malibu High School arising out of the possibility that there is a substantial environmental threat to the safety of our children, teachers, and classified employees," the letter states (see attached left).
The letter was sent on behalf of the Malibu High School Parent-Teacher Association, the Malibu Special Education Foundation, members of the Malibu High School Site Council, the Boys and Girls Club of Malibu, Advocates for Malibu Public Schools (AMPS) and the school's fundraising arm, the Shark Fund.
Each of the teachers who experienced health problems spent prolonged periods of time in buildings E (the main middle school building), F (Music and Drama), I (Visual Arts) and the school theater. Superintendent Sandra Lyon said Friday the district had retained an environmental consulting firm to test for mold, conduct air-quality monitoring and review a 2010 soil remediation report. In 2011, soil containing elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from historic termite treatments was removed from a portion of the middle school quad adjacent to the buildings in question.
Classes resumed Monday in the buildings, with school district officials stating it was safe for students to attend class. Television news trucks were parked outside the campus all day.
Seth Jacobson, who sits on the MHS Site Council and has a child in the middle school, said there was a lot of uncertainty among parents about whether it was safe for their children to attend class.
"It's about the district providing clear and transparent information about what's going on. and in the meantime keeping our children safe," Jacobson said. "I would say there's a tremendous amount of uncertainty and fear that needs to be addressed."
Laureen Sills, founder of the Malibu Special Education Foundation, said the goal of the organizations' request was to procure information and "prevent hysteria."
"There were parents packing up their kids and leaving school," Sills said.