Malibu High School students and staff returned to campus Monday for the first time since learning that some classrooms are being tested for contamination that some fear could be a cause of recent cancer diagnoses for several teachers.
Three teachers who work in the same building have recently been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Others have reported thyroid problems. Some have skin rashes and have lost their hair.
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.
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“We will do everything we can to make sure our teachers and students continue to be safe again,” said Jerry Block, the Malibu High principal, adding he expects the test results back soon. “We have no reason to believe they're not safe right now.”
Parents dropping off their kids on Monday were not only worried about the sick teachers but also their children.
“I worry because I just heard it on the radio and I don't know what happened,” said parent Nery Godoy.
Carrie Krase is so concerned she is pulling her two kids out of class, at least until she gets more answers.
“You start looking at your own kids,” she said. “You know they had that stomache ache. They had that headache. You start to think your children must be affected as well.”
She says the school and the district have a lot of work to do to make her feel like her kids are safe.
Sandra Lyon, the superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, said she wouldn’t have opened the campus if she thought conditions were not safe.
“At this point we don't have any reason to believe it is not a safe building,” she said.
But parents want the district to be sure.
So some are forming a group to demand answers and accountability.
“They're wonderful teachers. We need to protect them and take care of them,” said Laureen Sills, a parent.
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