Mold Ruled Out as Cause of Illness at Malibu High, More Tests Expected

Over concerns that carcinogens are on campus, eight classrooms were closed Wednesday and another building was shuttered Friday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dozens of students at Malibu High School are completing their work at home while environmental tests are conducted on their campus. Three teachers who worked in a single building have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and parents and staff are working a contaminant on campus may be to blame. Angie Crouch reports from Malibu for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 11, 2013.

    Preliminary environmental tests at Malibu High School, where three teachers were recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer, reveal that mold does not appear to pose a health hazard on campus, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District said Friday evening.

    The tests were conducted with regard to mold only and represents the first step taken by the district in reponse to concerns that there may be carcinogens on campus, which houses a high school and middle school.

    Parents and educators are demanding more comprehensive tests, including on campus soil, to determine whether contaminants are causing illnesses.

    Three teachers who worked in now-shuttered Building E were recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer, three more educators have thyroid problems, and others report suffering from migraines and skin rashes.

    "These results are for classrooms 2, 3, 10, and 14. The report finds that the results are well within acceptable limits and in most cases are well below the levels measured outside," Sandra Lyon, superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, said in a statement Friday.

    "The preliminary report states that measured levels coupled with field observations do not suggest 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."

    Next week, an environmental expert will visit the school to meet with staff and develop a plan on which tests should be done next, Lyons said.

    While Santa Monica-Malibu School District officials released Friday the results of environmental tests inspired by three teachers’ recent cancer diagnosis, dozens of students at Malibu High School are finishing this week’s school work at home.

    “I don’t want to get cancer I guess,” student Max Gordon said. “I hope the mold in those rooms aren’t harmful because I have a lot of favorite teachers.”

    Gordon is one of dozens of students at Malibu Middle School who have decided to stay away from campus and sign up for Independent Study, a program that includes online lessons and written tests taken off campus.

    Those students are waiting until all environmental tests on their campus are complete before returning.

    Building E – comprised of eight middle school classrooms – was shut down Wednesday.  Students were relocated to other classrooms on campus and across the street at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School.

    The Music Building was shuttered Friday. The student choir and orchestra will practice across the street to Malibu United Methodist Church starting Monday.

    While the preliminary results suggest the shuttered buildings are safe when it comes to mold, those classrooms and the music building will not be reopened until more testing is complete, Lyons said.

    Parent Susan Baxter said she signed her children up for Independent Study since learning about the possibility of carcinogens on campus.

    “You come to the office, fill out the paperwork and it’s basically a contract between your child and the school,” Baxter said.

    Baxter’s daughter Acacia said even though the district has moved students out of classrooms suspected of having contaminants, she still doesn’t feel safe.

    “I didn’t want to get sick because I have been getting sick,” she said. “I talked to my mom and said I don’t want to go to school anymore. I don’t want to be exposed to that.”

    Test results on Building E taken Oct. 4 are expected to be revealed Friday.

    The final testing report, when completed, will be posted on this website. Parents or students can email malibufaq@smmusd.org with their questions about the testing and future plans.

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