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Letter to the Editor: Transparency and full disclosure

Staff Report
3:00 pm PDT August 4, 2014

Dear Editor/community member,

With school starting in less than a month, many parents have contacted us about their concerns, fears and anxiety regarding the safety of Malibu High School and Juan Cabrillo Elementary School.  Since we both have been working on this issue (John on the Environmental Task Force and Laura as a former MHS parent and Schools Subcommittee member), we decided to combine efforts. 

In phone calls, emails and meetings with District staff and school board members, we have been stressing a few important things. 

First, we have tried to explain to the District the real fear and confusion so many people are feeling right now. Right or wrong, these are real and strong feelings and the District must respond to them. There is a great sense of urgency here with school starting so soon.

Secondly, we asked for a town hall/panel discussion with all of the major players: EPA, DTSC, Environ, the district, Malibu Unites and PEER. This meeting would be televised and mediated by an expert in these types of discussions.  

We want everyone at the same table so that an informed and factual discussion can take place. We need to get past communication by press release. Next, we asked for 100 percent testing of high occupancy rooms (classrooms and offices) so that everyone would have information about their student’s rooms for this school year.  We discussed the possible need to move students and teachers out of classrooms into relocatibles and the feasibility of doing that.  

Lastly, we strongly urged the District to do a better job communicating to the parents and students of Malibu. It is time to move past defensive postures, incomplete disclosures and unkept promises. Transparency and full disclosure are very important to try to get back the trust of the Malibu community.  Testing results, plans and procedures all must be done first and foremost with the safety of children and teachers in mind.  We need to insure strict adherence to EPA and DTSC requirements and everything must be communicated in a clear and simple way, that we can all understand.  

As Councilmembers, we have no direct power or control over the school district, just as the school board cannot make decisions for our city.  However, we can act as a conduit between all the parties, communicate what is happening in Malibu, and urge them to respond and take action.  That is exactly what we have been trying to do.  And will continue to do.  We are committed to finding solutions and getting answers for all the residents of Malibu.

John Sibert, Mayor Pro Tem

Laura Rosenthal, Malibu City Councilwoman