SMMUSD HDQTRS — Preliminary results from mold testing performed at Malibu High School showed “no unusual findings,” according to a statement released by the Santa Monica-Malibu School District on Friday.

The testing, performed at the request of teachers concerned about health problems among the faculty, was performed on Sept. 20 and Oct. 4 in building E, the main middle school building on campus. Classrooms 2, 3, 10 and 14 were examined.

The environmental consultant, Arcadia-based Executive Environmental, found that mold results “are similar to levels found outdoors with no unusual findings.”

At least three teachers at the campus have been diagnosed with cancer. Others have complained of migraines and skin rashes.

“The measured levels coupled with field observations do not suggest a hidden source of mold,” the statement reads. “The building can continue to be occupied and should not pose a health hazard from a mold standpoint. We expect the final report to be issued by Oct. 18, 2013.”

Students are currently being taught at adjacent Juan Cabrillo Elementary School, and music classes are being taught at Malibu Methodist Church. Students will not be moved back into the middle school building or the music building “until comprehensive testing is conducted to address the community’s concerns,” the statement reads.

The district also announced it had retained an independent consultant, Mark Katchen, from the Phylmar Group, to “assume the lead role in identification, analysis, implementation and recommendations for all testing required at the facilities.”

Katchen is described as an “expert in industrial hygiene, toxicology, occupational health, risk communication and e-commerce.”

Katchen is conducting a comprehensive review of the campus as well as interviewing staff to determine further studies that need to be done, according to the statement. He is also reviewing all documents related to the 2011 removal of soil in the middle school quad, which was found to contain elevated levels of PCBs, lead and pesticides.

Katchen is working with a community task force to develop an action plan and time lines. Contact information for task force members will be released this week, according to the district.

For those with questions or information for the district, contact

Meanwhile, a group that wants to create an independent school district in Malibu said it is meeting with parents Wednesday at the Point Dume Clubhouse to discuss hiring their own consultant to examine soil at Malibu High. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Dr. Ken Rosenfield of Santa Monica environmental consulting firm Soil Water Air Protection Enterprise (SWAPE) is scheduled to speak about his experience with situations similar to the one at Malibu High. Rosenfield is an expert in the areas of soil chemistry and PCB contamination and has advised the U.S. Navy, according to the firm’s website.

Advocates for Malibu Public Schools, or AMPS, is hosting the meeting.

Rosenfield is expected to provide his assessment of what studies should be done at Malibu High School and how they should be supervised. Rosenfield is expected to be retained at a cost of $5,000, paid for through parent donations, according to a letter from AMPS.


This article first appeared in The Malibu Times.

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