Health Concerns Prompt Relocation of Students in Malibu

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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.

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