Parents fear Magnolia School is still toxic

Posted at 7:41 PM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-12 20:01:35-04

"Back To The Future!"

That's the promise made by Cajon Valley Union School Superintendent David Miyashiro in an open letter to the Magnolia School family. The letter announces Magnolia will reopen this fall, one year after it closed to "install engineering upgrades and to conduct environmental safety tests in the indoor air."

The letter says Magnolia has been transformed into a "school of the future," where new technology and innovative ideas will inspire kids to learn.

It doesn't mention the ongoing class-action lawsuit that claims Magnolia's classrooms are filled with toxic fumes left behind from decades of chemical dumping by the aerospace company located right next door.

Miyashiro told Team 10 Magnolia has always been safe and that the school was closed out of an abundance of caution. Although several parents claim their children became ill while attending Magnolia, Miyashiro said parents have not been able to provide any proof that going to the school made them sick.


He confirmed for Team 10 that sub-slab depressurization systems have been installed throughout the school. The systems suck toxic fumes away from the building and into the air where they are supposed to disburse.

Miyashiro said air quality monitoring will continue at the school, adding that all samples so far are well within CalEPA standards.

The district provided the following documents that show the school is safe: Report 1 | Report 2 | Report 3

Parent Alejndra Lopez isn't so sure. She has three children who attended Magnolia, and she claims her daughter's hair began falling out, while her oldest son complained of headaches and dizziness. He fainted twice during the school year.

Her older children have now moved on to middle school, but Lopez fears her youngest son will start showing symptoms again when the Magnolia reopens.

"Now that we're not there, it's like all those symptoms are gone. My 4th grader's red eyes are gone now that he's not there, so now I'm thinking if he's going back, is it going to come back again?" said Lopez.

Lopez spoke to 10News following a meeting with the legal team handling the lawsuit against Ametek and the new company at the site, Senior Aerospace Ketema. About 30 concerned parents and teachers attended the meeting, which was closed to reporters.

Attorney John Fiske of the Gomez Trial Attorney firm told Team 10 the school district is relying on the wrong test results when declaring Magnolia safe.

"The school is relying almost entirely on the DTSC (Department of Toxic Substance Control), which is relying almost entirely on the polluter. So, in a sense, the school is working with the polluter rather than with the parents and teachers and the students that they're supposed to be helping," said Fiske.

Fiske said parents and teachers have been left out of the information loop by district officials, and that the new depressurization system doesn't work.

"There are still fumes coming up into indoor air, and this air is not being regulated that's being now spewed out into the rest of the school, so when parents and teachers and students are deciding to go back to school they don't have all this information available to them," Fiske said.

Fiske added there should be zero-tolerance for sending kids back to school as long as the vapors are present.

When asked if he would feel safe sending his own children to Magnolia, Miyashiro said yes, adding he would be willing to put his office on the school campus because he's so confident it is free of toxic vapors.

The lawsuit is slowly working its way through the courts, and Team 10 will continue to follow developments as they happen.