Some people hate school. Others love it. But teachers at a high school in the beach community of Malibu just outside of Los Angeles say that their school is literally giving them cancer.
According to a letter sent Friday by 20 Malibu Middle and High School teachers to their bosses at the local school district, ongoing construction at the school has unleashed some sort of environmental contaminant that is making them sick.
Three teachers have contracted thyroid cancer in the last six months there, the letter says. Three others have experienced non-cancer thyroid problems while six more now suffer recurring migraines.
The issue was made public at an education board meeting last Thursday, even though the school district already knew about the issues.
Sandra Lyon, superintendent of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, “said that there is no evidence that there are any final environmental concerns.” However she added, “we want to take the concerns seriously, we want our employees to feel comfortable."
All of the affected teachers worked in three specific buildings on the school campus. The district has agreed to test the buildings for mold and to check air quality and well as other possible factors that could damage teacher health.
We think it's a little odd that three women in a year get thyroid cancer,” music teacher Bill Bixler told the Malibu Times newspaper. “We don't know if that's a coincidence. We just want to get some studies done, so that's what [the school district administration] said they'd do.”
Parents of children who attend the school, on the other hand, are upset that they weren’t told about the problems earlier.
"We had to find out on our own that three teachers had been diagnosed with cancer," said Seth Jacobson parent of a student who has classes in one of the affected buildings. "It's very deeply concerning as the parent of a middle school student.”
But Lyon says that the parents should not worry about sending their kids to class in those buildings.
"We know they are safe, just as much as you know that your house is safe,'' she said. "As far as we know, those rooms are safe.''
SOURCES: Malibu Times, Malibu Patch