Malibu students given option of working at home amid contaminants scare

Trenching and conduit work is completed for a new information technology room at the Malibu Middle and High School Campus. Soil containing elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was removed from the middle school quad area in 2010, but some teachers believe the recent diagnoses of three colleagues with thyroid cancer may be related to remaining contaminants. 

Five days after the recent cancer diagnoses of three Malibu High teachers due to potential environmental contaminants on campus prompted a health scare at the school, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District on Friday announced that classes in building F, the Music and Drama building, would be moved across the street to Malibu Methodist Church. The relocated classes will start Monday. The district also said it would offer students the chance to work from home through an independent study. 

A new crossing guard hired by the district will shepherd students to and from the main campus during the school day.

All classes in building E, the main middle school building, were moved to adjacent Juan Cabrillo Elementary School on Wednesday. 

The district announced it would offer an independent study option to students who do not wish to attend school in light of the concerns. Under the independent study option, students would complete schoolwork at home and turn it in each Friday at school at 1 p.m. until ongoing environmental studies are complete. 

The school district also posted a link to a web page with environmental studies detailing the removal of soil at the middle school quad that contained environmental contaminants. The web page will be updated with further information regarding soil and air quality studies as it becomes available, according to a press release from the district. 

A letter signed by 20 Malibu Middle and High School teachers on Friday, Oct. 11 expressed concern that the recent cancer diagnoses of three teachers and health problems experienced by other teachers–including three with thyroid problems, seven with persistent migraines, one with bladder cancer, among others–may be related to contaminants on the campus. Each of the affected teachers spent prolonged periods of time in buildings E (the main middle school building), F (Music and Drama), I (Visual Arts) and the school theater.

The teachers requested the district test for a range of contaminants such as mold, and to view a copy of a soil report from 2010. In 2011, soil containing elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from historic termite treatments was removed from a portion of the middle school quad.