Malibu Parents Seek Second Opinion On Possible Contaminants

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Malibu parents met Wednesday night with an independent expert to discuss possible contaminants at the local high school.

filephoto Malibu High School
File photo of Malibu High School (credit:

Parents of Malibu High School are seeking a second opinion after school officials said last Friday that classrooms tested for mold showed normal results.

On Wednesday night, they got advice from Paul Rosenfeld of the Santa Monica firm Soil Water / Air Protection Enterprise.

“I think that they want to make sure that they’re given the whole truth,” Rosenfeld said. “Our goal is to investigate where the contaminant came from.”

Administrators relocated classes in the middle school building last week after reports revealed teachers were complaining of health problems including cancer.

In 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.

Parents at the meeting were skeptical about the tests perform on behalf of school officials, and were eager to seek a second opinion.

“I think that it’s a good idea,” one parent told KTLA. “It’s like getting a second opinion from a doctor.”

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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