Story Summary

Malibu Teachers Claim School May Be Source of Cancer

filephoto Malibu High School

File photo of Malibu High School (credit: malibuhigh.org)

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has agreed to investigate concerns about possible contaminants at Malibu High School that some teachers said may have made them sick, according to a memo sent to staff.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 6 updates

Parents and teachers meet Thursday to discuss the oncoing cancer concerns at Malibu High School.
Christina Pascucci reports from Malibu for the KTLA News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District released preliminary results Friday for mold testing performed in response to concerns about possible toxic conditions at the school.

The report determined that the results are well within acceptable limits and in most cases are well below the levels measured outside, according to a news released from the district.

The preliminary report also stated there was no indication of a hidden source of mold and that the building can continue to be occupied and should not pose a health hazard from a mold standpoint, the release stated.

The tests were conducted on Sept. 20 and Oct. 4 on classrooms 2, 3, 10, and 14.

Officials said the final testing report would be posted on the district’s website.

Sara Welch reports from Santa Monica for the KTLA News at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013.

Students at Malibu High School were expected to be relocated Wednesday after reports that campus facilities may have caused health problems for staff members.

malibu-high-schoolIn a letter to the school’s administration, teachers asserted that three staffers had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the last six months, while others said they were afflicted with respiratory problems, migraine headaches, skin rashes and hair loss.

Some of the employees say the symptoms subside during the summer when they are not on campus.

A 2011 renovation project at the school is believed to be a possible cause of the illnesses. Soil containing contaminants including PCBs, mold or radioactive material may have been exposed during the renovation.

Some students and parents say the school district was not fully transparent about the dangers posed by the contaminants.

“It infuriates me because they weren’t telling us,” one student said. “They were keeping it hush-hush until Sunday. It infuriates me that they would do such a thing to their students and their staff.”

The head of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District said no definitive link has been established between the reported illnesses and the school’s facilities.

“Right now we don’t have any data or evidence to say that there is any connection,” Superintendent Sandra Lyon said. “So we want to make sure we do a thoughtful plan and approach this in the right way so that we can answer those concerns.”

Malibu Middle School shares the campus with Malibu High. As a precaution, 11 middle school classrooms will be relocated to classrooms at the high school and a nearby elementary school, officials said.

At a public meeting held Tuesday afternoon, Lyon said the district had hired a company to conduct an investigation into possible contaminants at the campus.

Students in 11 middle school classrooms on the Malibu High School campus will be relocated to classrooms at the high school and a nearby elementary school after parents and teachers voiced concerns about potential contaminants in a building.

filephoto Malibu High School

File photo of Malibu High School (credit: malibuhigh.org)

The decision to relocate the Malibu Middle School students comes after teachers banded together to inform the district that several staff members working in the same set of buildings had recently been diagnosed with health problems.

Malibu Middle School shares campus space with Malibu High School. Staff and students from some of the affected classrooms will be moved to nearby Juan Cabrillo Elementary School as well.

Malibu parent Seth Jacobson said he raised the issue for the first time publicly last week at a Board of Education meeting. A letter to district personnel the next day asserted that three teachers had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer within the last six months, while other teachers  complained that they suffered from persistent migraine headaches and other health issues.

Click here to read the full story at latimes.com.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has agreed to investigate concerns about possible contaminants at Malibu High School that some teachers said may have made them sick. Sara Welch reports from Malibue on the KTLA News at 1 on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has agreed to investigate concerns about possible contaminants at Malibu High School that some teachers said may have made them sick, according to a memo sent to staff last week.

filephoto Malibu High School

File photo of Malibu High School (credit: malibuhigh.org)

The investigation, originally reported by the Malibu Times, comes after 20 teachers signed a letter suggesting mold and other contaminants in some of the school’s buildings made their colleagues ill, including three who were diagnosed with stage-one thyroid cancer in the last six months.

Three other teachers were treated for thyroid problems, while seven suffered from migraines. Complaints of skin rashes, hair loss and respiratory problems were also listed in the letter.

“One teacher was also diagnosed and treated for bladder cancer as a possible result of airborne chemicals two years ago,” the letter stated.

In 2011, soil was removed from the campus to make way for a $30 million renovation project.

Much of that soil was reportedly contaminated with lead, pesticides and PCB’s — a chemical which has been shown to cause cancer.

Each of the affected teachers spent long periods of time in the main middle school building, the music and drama building, and the school theater, according to the Malibu Times. Malibu middle and high school are located on the same campus.

“You know, at this point we have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that that building isn’t safe… that any of the buildings aren’t safe. But in an abundance of caution we’re making sure we do a thorough investigation because these teachers have raised these health concerns,” Superintendent Sandra Lyon said Monday.

The staff was informed that the district hired “a highly qualified environmental consulting firm, to investigate these concerns and to recommend corrective action to address any hazardous conditions, should any be identified,” in a memo sent by Lyon on Friday.

So far, no children have complained of illness, according to Lyon.

“An environmental concern would always worry me, but I’m happy with the steps that the school’s taking. It seems like they’re being very proactive about it,” parent, Anna Caldwell, said.

A voicemail went out Sunday night and an email was scheduled to be sent Monday to notify parents of the investigation, Lyon said.

Advertisement