Open Discussion of La Quinta Middle School Cancer Issue April 22, 2015 meeting
Chairman Sylk called the meeting to order at 5:40pm
To whom much is given, much is expected.
La Quinta Middle School Cancer Issue
I favor a new measurement of the school performed by an independent group using the correct equipment and looking for the real problem.
That issue needs to be resolved immediately. Is there a way that everyone can be right at the same time? No, but there is rightness in each stance. I am on the side of those that want the truth. It’s refreshing to be reminded that basic American liberties still exist and still work. We do live in a democracy and we should not be reminded that we all have a voice.
A School Board that is afraid to let its people judge the truth in an open public forum is a School Board that is afraid of its people.
Where do we find such men and women as these who will not stand up for their constituents. Where do we find such men and woman who are afraid to do what is right. Those who say words to get elected and then never act on those words should be replaced and new men and women of integrity and ethics should be found to take their place. Let us start today on a new breed to lead us for the future of our children and families. I say again, let us start today!
Robert F. Sylk
Ellen (Ellie) Marks
California Brain Tumor Association
Indian Wells, CA
Mr. Robert F. Sylk, Chairman
Concerned Citizens of La Quinta
La Quinta, CA 92253
February 8, 2015
Dear Mr. Sylk,
Firstly, we want to thank you Mr. Sylk and The Concerned Citizens of La Quinta Organization for being the only organization that stepped forward to stand with us in getting the word out on this very serious problem. No other group, Chamber of Commerce, or anyone from the LQ City Council would speak with us. We will now be on KESQ TV at the 6pm (part 1) and 11pm (part 2) newscasts on Wednesday, February 11th. I have put together per your request a timeline of events leading to where we are today for you to forward to your Mr. Burton.
In 2004 many teachers at La Quinta Middle School (LQMS) realized they had something negative in common—they had all developed cancer while working at the school. Their concern and tenacity led to an investigation which was handled quite poorly by the School District and California Department of Public Health. It ended unsatisfactorily for all past, current and future students and faculty.
It was determined by independent experts (at their own expense) that the school has high levels of high frequency voltage transients (dirty electricity) which is also known to be a cause of cancer. Water and soil tests were performed and were normal. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) confirmed and agreed with the ‘dirty electricity’ concerns of Dr. Sam Milham (MD, an award winning world renowned occupational epidemiologist and a local resident) and electronic engineer Lloyd Morgan.
Dr. Raymond Neutra of the CDPH, who made the actual measurements, stated in an April 3. 2007 letter to the Desert Sands Unified School District’s Superintendent Doris Wilson, referring to the ‘dirty electricity’s’ measured values found in LQMS classrooms “This difference [compared to non-LQMS values] is extremely unlikely to have occurred by chance.” He agreed with Dr. Milham’s observations.
Weeks later, Dr. Neutra, in a second letter to Doris Wilson, downplayed what he had written previously. He now wrote “We agree there is suggestive evidence … but don’t see the associations as being as large or statistically precise as Dr. Milham does.” A week later the Superintendent issued a press release stating that the school had received a “clean bill of health”. This was not true. Dr. Neutra included many statements of concern in his final letter including the need to solve the problem stating, “We stand ready to assist in the design and conduct of a study to assess and perhaps eliminate internal sources of circuit voltage vibrations with a view of addressing some of the teacher’s concern.” Doris Wilson did not reply to this offer and Dr. Neutra did not comment about the “clean bill of health.”
Additionally, the CDPH analysis compared the teachers’ cancer rates to the overall cancer rates of all the LQMS teachers. Milham’s analysis compared the teachers’ age and gender specific cancer rates with the cancer rates of California as is required in any analysis of a cancer cluster.
Dr. John Morgan of the Desert Sierra Cancer Registry, brought in by the district, never studied the students or staff. He never contacted any of the teachers who had cancer. He stated three (3) members of the Milham cohort of LQMS teachers should not have been included alleging that one person was not a teacher and two were diagnosed before they were employed at LQMS. Proof was provided to John Morgan and Raymond Neutra that this was untrue. All 3 teachers were assigned classrooms, and the two (2) who were alleged to have been diagnosed prior to employment, were teaching in classrooms at LQMS well before they were diagnosed. One specific teacher had kept a log of all teachers and classroom assignments since the school opened. It appears Dr. John Morgan reported incorrect data and even with proof he did not correct this.
This “investigation” took four (4) years. The teachers and independent experts were treated quite poorly by the school district. Some of the teachers were blamed for their own cancers. One teacher smoked and the district blamed that for her breast cancer. Smoking does not cause breast cancer.
Beginning in about 2009 past students (as young as 15) began to come forward after being diagnosed with cancer. We currently have a list of fifteen (15) past students with cancer and these are only the ones who have come forward.
During the investigation the teachers wanted the school district to run all past students’ and teachers’ names through the California Cancer Registry. This request was denied. The CDPH has the power (as they had done to obtain the teachers’ names from the District) to force the District to provide all the students names who had ever attended LQMS. The CDPH failed to use that power.
The school district did install shielding between the electrical room and a classroom but this was not a remedy for the real problem. However, by doing so they admitted there is a problem. There is a simple fix which involves installing filters in the classrooms. As to the source, Dr. Milham feels it could be coming from the substation at 48th & Jefferson. If this is the case, neighboring homes may also be impacted. We are willing to measure the homes free of charge.
Dr. Milham and Lloyd Morgan are my colleagues. I am quite involved in radio-frequency fields and the health effects. I became increasingly concerned about LQMS as I learned more about ‘dirty electricity’ and saw the teacher and student lists increasing. I have met with some of the teachers, students, and the loved ones of the deceased. One man died in his 40’s and the teacher who took over his same classroom developed cancer. This is cannot be by chance.
We are happy that you have set up a Health and Wellness committee which I have agreed to chair. We need to get to the bottom of this to save our most precious resource of all – our children – despite how inconvenient this may be for the school district.
We need all past student and teacher names run through the California Cancer Registry database to determine the numbers that have been affected and the magnitude of the cancer risk. We are thrilled that CCOLQ and its 7600 members will sign onto our request to the School District to provide us with the names and birth dates of all prior students and teachers. We are also asking the California Teachers’ Association to sign this request. We would also like to see local, state, and federal legislators from this district sign this request. Of course this is controversial but we must stop this before it gets even worse.
We all look forward to working with you and other Concerned Citizens of the La Quinta Community to remedy this situation as best as possible and as amicably as possible. Unfortunately, we have reached out to the new Superintendent and his answers are repetitious of the misleading incorrect “facts” from many years ago. He has not shown an interest in addressing this issue any further despite the fact students are being added to the list of those affected.
Thank you for the excellent work you have done for us and what CCOLQ has accomplished for the community and I look forward as the appointed Chairwoman for you Health and Wellness Committee. Your help in forming this committee has helped us greatly.
My best regards,
Ellen Marks, Director
California Brain Tumor Association