Letter to SMMUSD Board urging them to direct their district staff to be more forthcoming, transparent, and timely.

Letter to SMMUSD Board urging them to direct their district staff to be more forthcoming, transparent, and timely.

Dear SMMUSD Board of Directors and Sandy,

I was reading the Feb 7th Board Update and it states that the Environ agreement and scope of work was finalized and is in the process of being executed. We have asked to see this many times. It is now Feb 21st and as far as I know, no one outside of your staff has seen this contract and scope of work. This process should be a collaborative effort with parents, teachers and the district. This should not be a district staff only discussion.
The scope of work has not even been presented to the task force members. It has been 5 weeks since we agreed to hire Environ. There is an EPA deadline at the end of Feb to provide them a plan to address all the pre-1979 caulk at Malibu High School and Juan Cabrillo. How can we meet that if Environ is not on board and the scope of work has not been vetted by the parents and teachers?
Testing for PCBs in the classroom is not the only contaminant we should be testing for. All contaminants found in the soil in 2010 should be screened inside the classrooms.
The soil on the entire 2 campuses should be tested for all contaminants found in the soil in 2010 and screened for all toxins like it was done in 2011. According to the 2010, Removal Action Workplan, no source was identified for the PCBs or pesticides, so no one can assume that the contaminants were only around the buildings in the quad. Even the DTSC agrees, a full campus soil test is required.
In 2010, Arcadis used a residential screening level based on DTSC guidance with the most sensitive exposures. We need to error on the side of health and safety by using residential screening levels at a 1 in 1 million cancer risk. This should be the standard for all testing on our campuses. This is about our children.
This is what was in our soil above the screening levels.

PCB Araclor 1254: 1420 ug/kg (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 89ug/kg)

Toluene: 1.1mg/l to 4.3mg/l

Benzene: exceeded residential CHHSL

DDE: 361ug/kg

DDT: 46.7ug/kg

Alpha Chlordane: 683 ug/kg    (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

Gamma Chlordane: 305ug/kg    (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

Technical Chlordane: 1910ug/kg    (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

Lead: 304mg/kg   (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 80mg/kg)

Arsenic: 10.6mg/kg

Cadmium: 4.77mg/kg

(source Removal Action Workplan 8-5-10 pg 10-15)


I have stressed many times over the last 5 months how important this issue is to the health of our children and our teachers. We have given the district ample time to get everyone in place to do comprehensive testing of the entire campus, Our kids and teachers are at school everyday and we DO NOT know if the campus is safe or not. We have tested for only 1 toxin (PCBs) in very few rooms. The EPA directed Mark Katchen to test with the windows closed, yet the very next day, he testing with the windows open! In addition to this, every expert I have spoken to says we cannot find out if there is a PCB source in a room if we test with the windows open, so all of those tests done with the windows open are worthless.

The district needs to get comprehensive soil and classroom air testing completed so we can see what is really going on at MHS and JC. The parents and the teachers are not going to let this rest until this testing is done correctly and the district is fully transparent and all stakeholders have a say.

We cannot wish this away; we cannot continue to delay this testing. We have a right to know about the environment in which we send our kids to everyday. This is about children… we owe it to them to make sure their environment is the safest it can be.

I urge the Board of Education to oversee the staff and direct them to be more forthcoming, transparent and timely to address this issue. I say this because up to now, the parents and teachers do not feel this has been the case. Something has to change, the board is the oversight to the staff, I am hoping that all of you will take an active role and ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the scope, planning, testing and remediation. If you want the parents and teachers to support what you are doing, then I suggest you make us part of the conversation. We are all not impressed with the way things have been done so far. I have spent countless hours on this issue and could add much value to this process.

This is a community issue, not just a district issue. These are our children and we want to ensure they have a healthy future.



Jennifer deNicola

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