We all want to know the truth. Has the district used the proper tests to evaluate the school? Will our children get sick today or in the future from the PCBs found at MHS and JC. In the past week, the district’s newly hired PR firm has sent out messages regarding the re-opening of buildings at MHS. Air and wipe testing being performed by the district will not determine future exposure or be protective of student and teacher’s health. While cleaning of the buildings is fantastic, it does not remove the PCBs. The Federal Violations still remain. Congress has clearly stated in the Toxic Substance Control Act regulation that, “PCB concentrations of 50 ppm or greater present an unreasonable risk of injury to health.” MHS/JC have 6 different buildings with levels over 50ppm. TESTING COMPARED: IT’S APPLES and ORANGES: The district is surface wipe testing and air testing only. The independent test results released by Malibu Unites/PEER showed 370,000ppm in the caulking, which caulking is the source of PCBs. PCBs in caulk are regulated under Federal Law, but air testing and surface wipe testing are not. Surface wipe (wipe) tests involve measuring a small area (100x100cm) as a representative sample of a much larger surface (classroom). This wipe test will provide information about that small area in that moment of time it was taken. The wipe sample will show PCBs that have been released from a source (e.g. caulk). PCBs come out of the caulk and into the dust, which is why wipe samples are lower than caulk samples. Air testing reveals the PCBs in the air at that moment of time the test is administered. Studies have showed that classrooms tested multiple times reveal significantly different results based on a number of factors, like temperature, ventilation, testing methods, etc. It costs $100 to test the caulk. PCBs were not applied evenly in caulk around the window frames, as they were mixed in at the job site. The only way to determine whether there are PCBs in or around a window frame is to remove several pieces of the PCB source material (in this case the window caulk) and test that material. Environ has not performed this type of testing. The data that has been released by the district and the data that has been released by Malibu Unites/PEER is like comparing apples to oranges. The apples (wipe and air testing) cannot tell the whole story. The oranges (caulk testing) will reveal the nature and extent the PCB contamination is throughout the campus; which is why the caulk must be tested in each pre-1979 classroom.

If the EPA and the district is so confident that the school is ‘safe’ then test the caulk and prove it.

Sad State of Affairs When Those Tasked to Protect Your Children, Can Only See To Protect Themselves

Dear Parents of Malibu High, Middle and Juan Cabrillo,

By now, many of you are aware of the struggle for our children’s safety in Malibu, between the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and the parents who are advocating for transparent, comprehensive testing of our schools. The press release (click here) that went out yesterday revealed independent test results of PCB sources that were acquired from several classrooms on the Malibu High and Juan Cabrillo campuses. These results indicated that the levels of PCBs in caulking at all three of our schools are some of the highest found in the nation. Nine months ago, Sandra Lyon promised to test Juan Cabrillo, yet that was not done. Without the independent test results released this week, MHS and Juan Cabrillo parents would never know the extent of contamination at the schools. 

To put this in perspective (highest interior levels of caulk reported):

  • Juan Cabrillo Room 19: 340,000ppm
  • MHS room 506: 370,000ppm
  • previous (Nov 2013) MHS Library: 1850ppm
  • Lexington, CT: approx. 37,000ppm;
  • P.S.199 Manhattan, NY: wall panel corridor 217,000ppm
  • Brooklyn, NY corridor display case: 440,000ppm

(Click Here to See NYC P.S.199 Pilot Study for PCB
We fully expected the district to try to discredit both these test results and Malibu Unites and PEER’s efforts on behalf of parents and teachers. We expected it to contain the usual messaging from the district, assuring parents that the classrooms are safe and the district is “doing everything it can” and that they are following EPA guidelines to ensure the health and safety of children and teachers. They have tried to depict us as aggressive activists. This is just not true. We are parents, just like you, and there are over 100 of us working on this issue. We love our community, our friends and our teachers and we are working hard to keep all of our children together in Malibu in a healthy, clean and safe learning environment.
The districts July 3rd PCB plan submitted to the EPA that Malibu Unites and PEER are concerned about proposes to leave all PCBs in place for 15 years. This is egregious and we all need to send letters to the EPA and the district stating that the parents of students will not accept our children being exposed to PCBs, especially PCBs that violate federal law, for 15 years. 
Email:  and (please cc:
We have tried for months to cooperatively work with SMMUSD. They will not do proper testing of PCB sources. Yet when it comes time to demo or remodel a building they are required by law to test for PCB sources to ensure they are properly disposed of, so why not do it now and protect the health of students and faculty? 
The way the district currently tests for PCBs is by air and wipe samples, not caulk samples; which is why the district has not identified the high results the independent study revealed. Air and wipe tests will never trigger the federal law of 50ppm (TSCA) because federal law does not have a regulation for air or wipe tests. Most importantly, an air or wipe test only shows us what is happening at the moment the test is taken, not a week or a month or a year from now. PCB sources will continue to emit PCBs into the environment exposing our children and their teachers. It is just how PCBs work.  We have to know the source to control the source, which is why testing the caulk is so important.

Malibu Unites is not dismissing the authority and scientific experts of government agencies as Sandra Lyon stated in her most recent letter to the community. In fact, Malibu Unites President, Jennifer deNicola, was the first person to contact the EPA Region 9 and solicit their assistance, three weeks before Lyon was willing to reach out to them. It was only after Lyon learned that MHS violated federal law, that she was willing to call the EPA. The EPA has stated very clearly that the district (Environ) is directing the testing plans for the schools and the EPA will either approve or disapprove their plans. In many situations the district has not followed EPA guidance (see examples at bottom) which is why Malibu Unites and PEER’s oversight is essential. 
The district has spent about a million dollars on Lawyers rather than $100 per caulk test on approx. 150 classrooms and offices throughout the 3 campuses (including bathrooms and storage rooms). If four tests were done in each room it would only cost $60,000. Then we would know where the sources of PCBs are and we could discuss the best way to remediate, remove or rebuild. Until this source testing is done, we cannot ever be assured our children are not being unnecessarily exposed to toxic PCBs. Testing the caulking could trigger further TSCA violations and we believe that is the reason the district is avoiding caulk testing.

Please click here to see a compiled list health issues related to PCB. 

The independent test results were analyzed at an EPA-approved laboratory using EPA testing method 8082a and went through third-party independent quality control, quality analysis (QAQC) process. This testing and QAQC takes time, but it validates the testing results by multiple independent parties. Malibu Unites and PEER stand behind them. If anyone questions these results, the easy thing to do is test the same caulking in the same room and send it to an EPA approved lab to verify the results. But disputing results, as a PR move, is irresponsible to the health of our children, our teachers and our community. It is disappointing that the district would publicly criticize this information rather than view it as an opportunity to re-evaluate their testing plan and be more protective of the health and safety of our children and teachers. 
Sadly, SMMUSD Board of Education and Superintendent have done very little to test and remediate toxins on our tri-school campus since October 2013, when news of the contamination on campus reached parents and teachers. PCBs in the soil were discovered in 2009— the district has known for four years that they had a PCB contamination issue and failed to warn the parents and teachers; the district failed to find the sources of contamination and rid the schools of PCBs. Federal Law bans PCBs from use, which includes caulk. The district and board members should have tested for sources of the PCBs and the eight other chemicals found in the soil at the time they found them, instead of removing the contaminated soil, and acting as if the toxicants were never there. The district’s current plan—to manage PCBs in place for 15 years and do no further testing and no mitigation—is again avoiding solving the problem. The district has inferred that because many other schools in the country may have a PCB problem that having one is not a big deal. This issue maybe widespread but it is not a reason to leave illegal and unhealthy PCBs in schools exposing children to unnecessary toxicants; and surely not a reason to leave them at our schools.
Please remember as you read the letter from the district that our school district’s ongoing and proven agenda is to put its own liability and finances before the health and safety of students, and ahead of a parent’s right to know about toxins at their child’s school. It is Malibu Unites’ position that all parents have the right to know what their children are being exposed to at school, so that each family can make the decision that is right for them. 
Please know that we will continue to fight for your right to have full information about any contamination on campus so you can make an educated choice about your child’s school environment and the amount of risk your family is willing to assume. Some parents will think the risk is small; others will decide it is too high for their comfort. Both decisions are completely valid. But YOU deserve the right to make an educated choice for yourselves, not to have SMMUSD make it for you.
Respectfully Yours,
The Malibu Unites Team 
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4 Examples of the District Not Following EPA Guidance:
A:  EPA stated that all PCBs over 50ppm must be removed, but the district instead has proposed leaving them in place of 15 years.
B:  EPA sent a letter to Lyon on Jan 27th, 2014  clearly states:
1. Removal of all caulk with known concentrations above 50 ppm PCBs in the library and in Blue Building Rooms 1, 5, and 8. Even though air concentrations are below our health based guidelines, the cleanup plan should include post caulk removal air sampling as well as wipe sampling around the areas where caulk was removed.
2. Mitigation or removal of any caulk that is deteriorating in pre-1979 structures at Malibu High School/Middle School. After mitigation or removal of any caulk, the windowsills and adjacent areas should be thoroughly cleaned. 
However, the district has submitted two plans to the EPA that do not have even these minimum requirements included in their plan. The districts current plan proposes to leave all PCBs, including those in violation of 50ppm in place for 15 YEARS! No mitigation or removal. This is clearly not following EPA protocol or their direction.
C:  EPA told the district in writing on Dec. 20th, to air test with the windows closed, yet the very next day, the district air tested with the windows open.

D: On Dec 19th, 2013, Lyon sent out an email to parents claiming that EPA approved cleaning and testing plan before EPA ever received the plan to review. EPA received the plan on Dec 20th, at 8:58am. EPA issued response at 1:14pm stating windows must be closed. 

EPA Experts answer: Should PCBs be left in schools?


EPA Health Effects of PCBs Webinar: April 28th, 2014

The EPA gathered these three experts to make presentations to the entire US on the serious health affects of PCBs even at low levels. You can see these presentations on and the March 28th date. Environ’s plan calls for managing the PCBs in place, not testing for the PCB sources, relying only on one exposure pathway (inhalation) and ignoring the other exposure pathways (touch, ingestion etc), the experts were asked the following question:

Q: “Question from Jennifer deNicola: How do you feel about PCBs in schools? Do you think that we should leave PCBs in schools? Some people want to manage PCBs in place and continue to let them expose school age children, do you think this method will put children in potential harms way?”


A: EPA toxicologist, Dr. Geniece Lehmann, said, “We know less than we like to about dose response in terms of PCB inhalation. But we know enough about PCBs to know that inhaling them is probably not good. So I think that leaving them in place is probably not the course that we want to follow. However to what extent they need to be remediated is the area of contention and that can only be answered if we know if we can identify a level that we think can be safe and right now we have identified a level that we can say with uncertainty that we expect to be safe based on oral exposure studies but we would be able to have a lot more confidence in that data from inhalation studies.”

A: Swedish EPA, Dr Johansson, said, “If I can add to this. I would certainly not recommend to leave PCBs in these buildings. Because from our experience clearly that not only do they contaminate the indoor air but PCBs are escaping into the environment and they are there for considerable time and part of it will come back to us and prolong the exposure that we all have from PCBs. But the important thing is that when it comes to human health risk assessment it’s not based on the one exposure, not to be based on the indoor air or the inhalation (only) but because we are all exposed to contaminated food on top of indoor air and that accumulates and we have different patterns for the composition of PCBs that we could be exposed to.”

A: University of Iowa Professor Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Dr Ludewig, said, “May I say something? PCB-52, 28, 101, 110: those are more of the neurotoxic ones and honestly when I see that there is PCB-95 (in schools) and that there is a correlation to autism and Parkinson’s, I wonder why there is this increase in Autism in this society and Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. I think we have to learn much much more before we can make an informed decision here. Meantime we should just err on the side of caution and where it is possible, like removing the light ballasts, is not such a big deal, so why not do it in the schools, when there are old ones with PCBs. So remove the sources where it is possible and try and be as vigilant as possible, that’s my attitude. Especially also when you consider we are not only exposed to PCBs but then we have PBD’s in our homes, food, the school exposure and that means we have mixtures and with respect to AH receptors, its additive…So when we can remove an exposure somewhere or lower it, we should do that.”




MU Response to the districts April 4th Update

MU Response to the districts April 4th Update

In the April 4th update, Superintendent Lyon denies request for cooperation with Malibu Unites independent expert for oversight. She states that she thinks Environ can peer review itself. This is not oversight, this is control. A company can not PEER review itself! Presenting only the district’s expert’s viewpoint to the EPA and DTSC for approval in not independent oversight. The district continues to not show good faith, transparency or concern for community input. The only way to ensure that this process is transparent and trustworthy is to allow full cooperation with Malibu Unites’ independent expert team on behalf of the community.

While the district is more interested in controlling the entire situation, the EPA and the DTSC understand the value of community oversight and working with the experts at Malibu Unites. The EPA will provide our expert the testing plan once they receive it. This plan is due on Friday, April 25th, 2014. Our experts will then make comments and suggestions to the EPA regarding this plan for their approval. Malibu Unites will send the experts comments and analysis to the community. The DTSC has agreed to a similiar procedure when they receive their plan expected in May.

Environ has had ample time to formulate a testing plan and they are solely responsible for slowing down this process. The EPA and DTSC, have both been waiting for Environ’s testing plan to review since late March. Environ asked the EPA for an extension on the March 30th, 2014 deadline to vet the plan to the community. The EPA extended it to April 25th for this reason, but Environ did not vet this plan to the community at all. Instead Environ has added 4 questions to the DTSC survey concerning Best Management Practices (BMP) cleaning, which is a remediation tactic and school cleaning program recommended by the EPA to remove dust that may contain PCBs that can cause exposure. These questions have nothing to do with a testing plan.

BMP is no substitute for identifying the source of the PCBs and removing them so that we no longer have to clean PCBs from the dust or the air. Environ should not be polling the community for a remediation recommendation or cleaning program. They should have the experts to do a scientific analysis of BMP. If the EPA is recommending BMP as an effective remedation tool to reduce exposure, then they should have the testing data to back it up and know exactly how often BMP is necessary to be effective at removing PCBs. Asking our community about remediation before assessing the school with proper and comprehensive testing is not responsible. Once the caulk is tested and sources are identified, we can all discuss remediation options that may or may not include BMP.

Important to note that the Best Management Practice Professional HEPA Cleaning that was done at MHS in December 2013, was not effective. Therefore, no one can assume that BMP performed by our maintenance staff will reduce exposure. For example: the GYM office was pretested at 96.7ng, then BMP HEPA cleaned for approximately $5000, and post-tested at 89ng. This is a 7 ng reduction and evidence that BMP even by professionals is not effective at reducing PCB exposure in the air, so the likelihood of a school’s maintenance staff to do this is not likely. (no wipe samples were taken in this room)

Environ’s proposed schedule shows testing to occur in July, but no plans for remediation. This is not acceptable. This envrionmental issue should not spill into the 2014-2015 school year. The SMMUS Board as well as the Superintendent should be pushing them to a stricter deadline that is in the best interest of the children and teachers. The Board and Superintendent are not doing their job but sitting back and allowing this to drag on at the expense of our children health and stress regarding being in a hostile environment not knowing the cumulative levels of exposure they are receiving.

During the interview process with Environ, they along with the other 3 interviewees proposed that comprehensive testing would be done by the end of the school year so we could remediate during the summer, when no one was on the campus. Other firms that day had presented a complete timeline that showed testing would have been done by now so that we could plan remediation to occur over the summer.

Lyon also stated in her update that the task force agreed to hire Parsons, this is not true; the district hired Parsons all on their own. In the 2009 discovery of toxic soil, another Parsons’ employee, did not inform the parents and staff of the “Pesticides and PCBs (that) were present…at concentrations that presented an unacceptable health risk” as stated in the Arcadis report. Another firm hired the district and reports solely to the district is not considered appropriate independent oversight.  Click To Read Update and See the Schedule

Press Release 4-1-14 Pesticide Violation

Press Release 4-1-14 Pesticide Violation

For Immediate Release April 1, 2014

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Cited for Pesticide Violations


Malibu, April 1, 2014—The State of California’s Environmental Protection Bureau Pesticide Regulation Division had issued a notice of violation to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) for non-compliance with required public notification of pesticides use.  These violations were brought to light by Malibu Unites, a non-profit coalition of parents, teachers, students and environmental experts.

Malibu Unites President Jennifer deNicola today sent a letter to the district requesting immediate compliance with the Healthy Schools Act and swift creation and implementation of an environmentally responsible pesticide management plan for all campuses in SMMUSD. Malibu Unites has also requested that the district adopt a Precautionary Principal Policy that would further protect students and apply caution in pesticide-related decision-making. Malibu Unites offered assistance from its Advisory Council experts to design such a plan.

In its notice of violation of March 12, 2014, Patrick Duggan of the California Pesticide Regulation Division wrote to Superintendent Sandra Lyon that the district was in violation of the Healthy Schools Act requirements covered in the Education Code as well as California Code of Regulation Title 3 Section 6618 and that:

“The operator of property (the district) shall assure that notice is given to all persons who are on the property to be treated, or who may enter during the application or the period of time that any restrictions on entry are in effect….”

Malibu Unites believes that the district has not complied with the Healthy Schools Act since it became a law in 2000.

When parents from Malibu Unites presented the violation at the SMMUSD board meeting on March 20th, none of the board members appeared to be aware of the violation, despite the Superintendent having received the violation notice one-week prior.

At issue is the district’s use of fumitoxin, strychnine, and diphacinone — all highly dangerous rodenticides — and other pesticides applied on all four Malibu school campuses every Saturday morning, a day when sports fields are in high use.  Photos provided to Malibu Unites (see below) show rodenticide pellets were not applied as directed on the label – i.e. underground in rodent burrows — but instead sprinkled all over the sports fields, thus putting anyone who entered the application site in potential harm’s way.

Pesticide Photo jpgFumitoxin carries a label that reads, “Keep out of reach of children…due to high acute inhalation toxicity of phosphine gas.” Mild inhalation exposure may take up to 24 hours to appear, causing an indefinite feeling of sickness, ringing in the ears, fatigue, and nausea. Moderate poisoning can cause weakness, vomiting, pain above stomach, chest pain, difficulty breathing. Severe poisoning may occur with a few hours to several days and result in pulmonary edema and may also lead to dizziness, cyanosis, unconsciousness and death.    Strychnine is a convulsive poison which can be fatal is swallowed or inhaled.  Diphacinone is an anti-coagulant which is highly toxic and causes internal hemorrhaging.  EPA is in the process of taking products for home use containing diphacinone off the market unless they are in tamper-proof bait stations.  All of these rodenticides also pose serious risks to pets and wildlife.

Despite the City of Malibu’s joint-use agreement with the district, SMMUSD did not inform the City about the use of these rodenticides nor that they were applied hours before children played sports on the fields.  Each Saturday from September to January, AYSO (soccer) uses the Malibu High School (MHS) sports fields. After learning about the district’s violation and use of rodenticides, the City of Malibu immediately contacted the district to cease the use of these pesticides. The Boys and Girls Club on the MHS campus also reported not having been notified of rodenticide applications. The City of Santa Monica also has a joint-use agreement and was contacted about the violation for use of pesticides.

Dana Friedman, a Malibu parent stated, “I cannot believe the district would so carelessly apply pesticides on the grounds at our schools. The district consistently fails to inform parents about important issues that affect the health of our children. They have shown us they can not be trusted with our children’s safety.”

MHS is currently dealing with another contamination issue of pesticide and PCB-laced soil on campus.  When it was first discovered in 2009, the district did not notify parents or teachers about these toxins identified by a contractor “at concentrations that presented an unacceptable health risk.” In 2011, an estimated 1158 tons of contaminated soil were removed during summer school sessions. No warning was issued to parents, teachers, or staff about toxic soil removal or possible exposure while attending summer school.

In Paramus, New Jersey, a similar case occurred when toxic pesticides similar to those found at MHS were detected in the soil of a middle school, and the Paramus School District failed to notify parents for four months. Once the City of Paramus found out, the district Superintendent was put on an extended leave of absence and resigned two months later. This case involved forty tons of soil. The Malibu remediation project involved 1158 tons of soil and failed to notify parent for 4 years.


Read the Malibu Unites letter to SMMUSD

See the pesticide violations

View the Fumitoxin label warnings

Malibu Unites is working to ensure that all Malibu schools are healthy, clean and toxic-free for students and those who educate them. You can read more about the issues at MHS at

Who’s ready to take the Red Pill ?

Do you know the story from the Matrix starring Keanu Reeves?

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” -Morpheus to Neo

The term red pilll is defined as a human that is aware of the true nature of the Matrix (our world). I took the red pill. I am now in this with my eyes wide open. Before Oct 2013, I cleaned my house with regular chemicals and didn’t think twice, I sat on my couch and cuddled with my kids and didn’t think twice, and I sent my kids to school thinking they were in a safe environment and I didn’t think twice. Fast forward, just 6 months later and my eyes are wide open. I took the red pill. I check the labels on my cleaning products, I wonder if my couch has PBDEs and I know what needs to be done to our beloved MHS and elementary schools to ensure our children are in a safe environment.

No one told me that if I take the red pill there is no way out. That red pill must be connected to our moral compass and now I am in it for the long hall. I don’t see a way out, I only see opportunities to make our world healthier and safer. Someone told me that it is my turn to become a steward of our environment. I wasn’t sure what that would entail, but for my kids; all of our kids, I will gladly find out.

Recently at a basketball game at MHS, a fellow parent asked me if I regret getting involved with this issue at MHS because of the time commitment and road blocks. Of course I said no right away :) And I really don’t regret it at all. But as I thought more about it, I realized that you never know when or who will call on you to join something that matters and that is bigger then yourself; and for me this is one of those times. I am not sure how deep the rabbit hole goes… but I am in for better or for worse. But with all you, the amazing people that are in this with me, I know it will be for the better; not just for Malibu schools, but I hope for all schools in California and across the Country.

Who’s ready to take the red pill?

Please check out this award winning short video from, not only is it beautifully done, but it is eye-opening. I hope you enjoy it.

Warmest Regards,

Jennifer deNicola



(letter to the editor in response to Arnold York’s The Politics of Hysteria article on March 19, 2014)


I am a parent of a 6th grader at Malibu High School.  Last October, I attended a standing-room-only meeting led by district superintendent, Sandra Lyon, who promised the families of Malibu High that she would do all she could to fix the problem (that was identified back in 2009) in a timely manner.  Now, it’s the end of March, and the problem is not even close to being fixed, despite the fact that the district’s initial testing triggered the EPA’s regulatory control which meant a federal government agency had to be brought into the mix and we still, to date, don’t know how widespread the PCB contamination is.  I am not a researcher.  I’m a mom with a fierce desire to keep my family safe.  Despite my non-scientist status, here’s what I know.  I know that toxins are not just up at Malibu High; they are everywhere.  I know that the air we breathe, the ocean and pools we swim in, the food we ingest and the water we drink and bathe in have toxins.  The chemicals in our deodorant, make-up, lotions, perfumes, cleaners, detergents; the list goes on and on; also are increasing our toxin load.  I know that a toxin does not stand-alone.  It combines with all the other toxins we’ve encountered over our lifetime, resulting in cumulative damage.  You know what else I know?  I know that when I was eight months pregnant, I began having gran mal seizures, seemingly out of nowhere.  “Out of nowhere” became a brain tumor.  And when that tumor was removed and biopsied, it was a Grade Four Glioblastoma.  Not to sound trite, but there is no Grade Five.  I thought I wouldn’t live to see my child walk.  Given that there is no genetic link when it comes to brain tumors, I began to live a cleaner, less toxin-filled life. Eleven years later, I’m alive and have a beautiful kid, who I look at and think of all the things I can’t control that heighten her toxin load.  But the things I can control – like the possible contamination up at the high school, where she spends a minimum of 35 hours a week, August through June – I want answers and I want them now.  So when someone says to me that I am “governed by the politics of hysteria,” I nod my head, agreeing that, when it comes to my kid and her health, I am most definitely hysterical.


I am encouraged by the latest announcement from our district representatives re: the testing of MHS and JCES.  The district has heard our voices, but we must continue to speak up with vigilance.  Malibu Unites helps us do this as a cohesive group. This isn’t just a school issue; it’s a community issue.  If you live up by the high school, if you play on their fields, even if you just walk your dog around their track, we need you to speak up.  Please join Malibu Unites at, like them on Facebook at Malibu Unites and follow them on Twitter @MalibuUnites.


Sky Kunerth

Mother and Malibu Unites Advocate

Click Here to See Arnold York’s Article




Paramus New Jersey soil contamination cover-up

Paramus New Jersey soil contamination cover-up


In late May 2007, The Record, [a local paper] broke a story in which Paramus Public School officials knowingly failed to report the presence of the banned pesticides aldrin, dieldrin and chlordane on the campus of Westbrook, a middle school in the system. Responding to local outrage, the superintendent, Janice Dime, assured in a letter addressed to the public that the chemicals were not hazardous, however, town mayor, James Tedesco described Dime’s statement as being either misinformed or deliberately misleading. Because of public pressure, on June, 06, 2007, the district’s board of education placed Janice Dime on an extended leave and shut down Westbrook Middle School for decontamination and testing. On June 13, test results done by a town contracted firm revealed that two of the thirty tested areas on campus had levels of chlordane that exceeded state safety standards. Still, officials and specialists are pushing for more tests. Since the incident more soil tests have been conducted around the area and in other parts of Paramus, with some yielding positive for excessive presence of pesticide. Westbrook has been decontaminated and reopened to students, while Janice Dime has resigned from her position as superintendent.

In comparison, in 2011, Malibu High School had over 1000 tons of soil removed and Paramus had 40 tons of soil removed. Chlordane was the most toxic of the pesticides found in both Malibu and in Paramus. In Paramus the district hid their toxin issue for four months and in Malibu the district hid it for 4 years.

Paramus, NJ implemented the Precautionary Principal to handle their contamination issue. The City of Malibu and SMMUSD should both adopt this principal.

Malibu Unites Urges SMMUSD to Make Public Comment Early for Parents

Malibu Unites Urges SMMUSD to Make Public Comment Early for Parents

March 18, 2014


I have requested to you numerous times in the past, and I do so again, to move public comment to a scheduled time of 6:30-7:30pm. This gives the board about an hour to do business and then gives your constituents a specific time to be heard, so they can plan accordingly with their children that attend school in the morning. Hearing from your parents, students and community members is imperative and you have many concerned parents with several important issues.It is a parent’s responsibility to prepare our children for school the next day and get them to bed and you can not expect parents to wait until some random time after you are finished doing your business to speak. It is the boards job to listen to their constituents and advocate for them, and the only way to do that is to hear what we have to say. It is better to hear concerns up front rather than complaints after mistakes are made, which cost precious time and money.

Community voice should be of the utmost importance to you and this is your opportunity to hear it. If you wait until 8:30 or later you will lose the parents just like you did at the last Malibu meeting concerning district wide funding.

Please make public comment a permanently scheduled time at 6:30 to accommodate parents who have family’s and children they must attend to in the evenings.

Thank you,

Jennifer DeNicola

Time to Speak Up and Stand Up for Our Children

Time to Speak Up and Stand Up for Our Children


The citizens of Malibu and Malibu High parents have the right to ask: Where were our City Council members when toxins were first detected in the soil at MHS in 2009 and when remediation occurred in 2011?

Finding contamination on school grounds is not an unusual occurrence. A town leadership that stays silent on the subject is.

In 2007, when the Paramus (NJ) School District concealed news about pesticides in the soil at West Brook Middle School for four months, the Bergen Record broke the story, the town’s mayor shut down the school for remediation, and the school board put the superintendent on extended leave, which led to her resignation. (Worth noting: In Paramus, information was withheld for four months and 40 cubic yards of soil were removed. In Malibu, we’re talking about more than 1,000 cubic yards and four years.)

In 2010, Lexington (MA) Public Schools temporarily closed Estabrook Elementary School when elevated levels of PCBs were detected in classroom air samples. In 2012 the city of Lexington filed a class-action suit against Monsanto on behalf of the Lexington school district and all school districts in the state with PCB problems in their schools.

And in 2011, when PCBs were found in the athletic field soil and later in the groundwater during a school renovation project at Greenwich High in Greenwich, Connecticut, town and school officials worked together to create a plan for remediation. Their strategy includes canceling summer school and restricting staff access to campus while the work is being done over two successive summers.

Isn’t the difficult work of advocating for citizens at such times exactly what a City Council is for? And if information wasn’t being withheld from the public, as some council members claim, why weren’t they on the front lines advocating for our children? And why weren’t our local papers reporting on the issue? MHS parents and new candidates for office are the only ones asking hard questions of our school and local officials. Sadly, five months after the contamination at MHS became national news, our school district staff, our school board members, and certain members of the City Council appear to be more interested in preserving their reputations and their own interests than in protecting the health and welfare of local children and addressing citizens’ concerns.