Parents outraged after Malibu district asks for extension to remove PCB from 2 schools

MALIBU, Calif. (KABC) -- Students returned to Malibu High School this week after cleanup following the Woolsey Fire, but some parents still worry about their children's health.

"The judge determined that there is an illegal level of PCBs in the school and they have to remove them all," said Jennifer Denicola, president of America Unites for Kids.

The ruling was made in 2016. The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District was ordered to remove cancer-causing chemicals known as PCBs from Malibu High and Juan Cabrillo Elementary by the end of 2019, or it had to stop using the contaminated pre-1979 buildings.

"Everyone was really looking forward to this date. This was the date that they know no more exposure," Denicola said.

But when the Woolsey Fire erupted, the district filed a motion asking the court for a five-year extension.

"I found out a few hours after my home had burned to the ground. I was devastated and furious," parent Jude Brown said.

Brown's two children are now doing independent study.

"And now the district throws this curve ball and wants five more years, leaving kids and teachers in toxic classrooms," Denicola said.

The school district said extensive testing shows the campuses are safe to occupy. It also said it's asking for the extension after Measure M was passed by voters in November - allowing for $195 million to rebuild facilities rather than remediation.

The district issued the following statement.

"As for the extension, we are moving staff and students out of buildings where parents are concerned as we rebuild the school...the health and safety to our staff and students continues to be our top priority," it said.

Denicola, whose 16-year-old daughter Sami attends Malibu High, said she doesn't trust the testing or monitoring and would like to see students moved into portables in other locations.

A federal court hearing is scheduled for Monday. A judge is expected to decide whether the district should get the five-year extension.
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