School, LAUSD Police Headquarters Evacuated Due to Foul Odor

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A report of a foul odor prompted the partial evacuation of a high school and school district police headquarters near downtown Los Angeles midday Tuesday, but no hazardous material was found, authorities said.

Authorities responded to the Roybal Learning Center Tuesday after a report of a foul odor. (credit: KTLA)

The gas-like odor was reported just after 11 a.m. near the Los Angeles School Police Department headquarters, which shares a building with the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center.

The school was partially evacuated, as were police department offices.

The structure in the 100 block of North Beaudry Avenue is on a former oil field and has a complicated system to release methane from underneath the building.

Four adults in the school police area had complained of nausea and headache, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jaime Moore said. They were treated and released, having felt better after being moved to fresh air, authorities on scene said.

After an initial reading taken on scene showed low levels of methane and hydrogen sulfide, a test from an LAFD hazardous material expert showed only normal “background” levels of the two contaminants, fire officials said.

“We still do not know the source of the odor,” L.A. school police Chief Steven Zipperman said. “It was something that numerous people within our building smelled.”

However, Zipperman assured parents that the facility was safe, based on the hazmat readings. He called the odor “pungent.”

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Unified School District referred a call from KTLA to the fire department.

The building, which also houses a charter school called Civitas School of Leadership, is located two blocks from LAUSD headquarters, on the west side of the 110 Freeway from downtown L.A.

Beaudry Avenue was temporarily shut down during the fire department response, video from the scene showed.

The Roybal Learning Center was built on the site of the original Belmont Learning Complex, a disastrous project that cost LAUSD hundreds of millions of dollars in part because the school was being constructed on a  former oil field.

To safely deal with methane from underneath the campus, the school has an extensive venting system that cost $17 million to install, according to a Los Angeles Times report from 2008, when Roybal opened.

KTLA’s Rose Razeghi contributed to this report.

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