MALIBU — Malibu High School teachers who have been displaced from their classrooms due to the toxic contamination are refusing to return to them. The cited reason for this is teachers’ frustration with the district’s lack of efficiency and honesty regarding their efforts to clear the campus of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB).
According to a press release by Public Employees for Responsibility (PEER), the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) declared that the selected classrooms that had been cleaned during the winter break were safe for use. However, a dozen teachers sent a letter to district officials faulting the district for making conflicting statements about what was being done. According to the letter that was sent, the 12 teachers were dissatisfied that the district officials did not consult them regarding the cleanup, and that the soil was not tested for dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and other contaminants that had been found in 2011.
The letter also claimed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviewed only five out of the 18 classrooms that had been tested and cleaned, and that the Phylmar Group (the firm formerly hired by the district) had conducted some of the tests with the windows open, in spite of the EPA’s clear instructions that they remain closed. In the letter, the teachers requested that the campus be re-cleaned and retested for PCBs as well as other contaminants.
Canyon News spoke to Superintendent Sandra Lyon, according to whom the SMMUSD has been doing their best in responding promptly to the issues brought up by the 12 teachers. “We are hiring an environmental engineering firm who will develop a complete plan for testing and cleaning so that we can take the necessary action to assure our community that our schools are safe,” the Superintendent said. “At each juncture we have communicated with the staff, the community and the public and will continue to do so.”
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