Students at Malibu High School returned to unusual classrooms Wednesday while a portion of their campus undergoes testing for possible carcinogens that may be to blame for three teachers’ recent diagnoses.
“We're doing everything we can to make sure our teachers and students feel safe here on campus,” principal Jerry Block said.
Students in eight middle school classes have been relocated to other classrooms on campus and next door at Juan Cabrillo Elementary. An extra crossing guard was on campus Wednesday to make sure students safely cross possibly unfamiliar streets to their new rooms.
The Malibu campus includes the high school and middle school. Environmental testing was performed last week in eight middle school classrooms in a portion of the campus known as Building E.
Three teachers who worked in that building recently have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, three more educators have thyroid problems, and others report suffering from migraines and skin rashes.
Earlier this week, parents sent a letter to the district superintendent and school board calling on them to move their children until the testing is complete.
District officials announced that decision at a packed closed-door meeting Tuesday afternoon.
“I think they're doing the right thing. They're getting scientific studies, getting facts, that's the only thing that's going to reassure parents their children are safe,” parent Mauric Goudzwaard said.
Student Trumann Gettings said he was absent Monday because his mother was worried about the safety on campus.
“Since they moved all the classrooms around, I’m fine, I guess,” he said.
District officials said they have hired an Arcadia engineering firm to look closer at classroom conditions, interview the sick teachers and check into a report showing contaminated soil was removed from campus three years ago.
The Los Angeles County Public Health Department has been brought on board to conduct a voluntary health survey of all employees on campus.
Results of the environmental testing, which some parents want to see expanded to include the entire Malibu High campus, could be ready as early as this week.
But despite the actions being taken, one parent said she is pulling her child out of school indefinitely, especially after a doctor made a disturbing discovery just a few months ago.
“She went to the doctor a couple of months ago for a routine physical and he says you have this lump in your throat and she's like, what is that? And he says, I don't know we need to recheck that in a couple of months,” parent Tracey Birdsall said.
“Then my friend next to me says, ‘My daughter has a lump in her throat, too.’”
Malibu High School Principal Jerry Block sent this email and voice messages to parents Tuesday, reiterating what was announced at a packed meeting earlier in the day:
Out of an abundance of caution and care for our students and staff, we are relocating all of our classes out of the Middle School Building. Tomorrow, students will report to their regular classrooms, as always. However, your child’s teachers will be escorting their students to their temporary classroom. Due to a lack of available space on the Malibu High School Campus, two sixth grade teachers (Ms. Jones and Ms. Quin-Meyer) will be re-located next door to Juan Cabrillo Elementary. In order to make sure that your children cross the driveway safely, our District has hired a crossing guard that will supervise the students going back and forth. I would like to publicly thank our teachers for their support as we all work diligently to make sure that temporary classes are ready for our students and teachers tomorrow. We will be posting an updated list of classrooms and phone extensions shortly.
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