Malibu High School

The safety of a Southern California public school campus is under scrutiny after twenty-one teachers raised concerns about the recent cluster of cancer diagnoses, thyroid problems and other illnesses that are plaguing staff.

In a letter signed by about one-third of Malibu High and Middle School’s teaching staff (the two schools share a campus in Malibu, Calif.), employees who worked in Buildings E, F and I for the past five years say they are suffering from conditions like thyroid cancer, bladder cancer, migraines, skin rashes or hair loss. Three teachers have been diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer in the past six months, while one teacher was diagnosed and treated for bladder cancer two years ago. The letter was first reported on by City News Service Sunday and is available at the bottom of this story via The Malibu Times.

Some of the conditions, like migraines or rashes, seem to disappear or significantly lessen during summer vacation, or when teachers are moved to other parts of campus, explains the letter. The letter also suggests that mold, lack of ventilation and air-borne chemicals on campus could be to blame.

The teachers ended the letter by calling upon school administrators to set dates to test the buildings and campus surroundings for mold, asbestos, rat feces and radioactive chemicals, to name a few contaminants.

School parent Hope Edelman first learned about the issue during a brief Sunday evening robo-call from Superintendent Sandra Lyons of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School district (SMMUSD). She then took to Facebook, where other parents had posted Malibu Patch’s City News Service article and were discussing whether or not to send their children to school on Monday.

Edelman decided that, for her, there was not yet enough evidence that justified keeping her two daughters home from middle school and high school — despite the fact the buildings named in the letter affected the middle school.

“I don’t want to fuel the panic,” said Edelman in a phone interview with HuffPost. “But I do think the teachers’ concerns need to be taken very seriously. Three [diagnoses] of cancer in the past six months should be taken seriously.”

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