On Friday, March 30th, 2012, the Los Angeles Unified School District celebrates the13th-year Anniversary of their groundbreaking Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy, and the 14th year Anniversary of California Safe Schools, a celebrated children’s environmental health and environmental justice coalition founded by Robina Suwol, following an incident when her sons, ages six and nine, along with other elementary school students, were accidently sprayed with pesticides by a school gardener in a hazardous material suit as they entered school.
Suwol’s youngest son Nicholas, who was six years old at the time, and whose asthma was under control, suffered a severe asthma attack as a result of the pesticide exposure.
Nicholas fortunately recovered, and with no litigious motives, Suwol formed California Safe Schools and worked with the Los Angeles Unified School District to create more protective protocols.
One year to the day that Nicholas became ill, Los Angeles Unified, the 2nd largest school district in the United States, adopted the most protective IPM policy in the nation for schools. Today, the policy has become a national and international model for school districts and communities.
The policy embraces the Precautionary Principle & Right to Know, includes ongoing training for staff,and a fifteen member oversight committee that meets monthly to ensure implementation.The success of the groundbreaking policy led to California Legislation, Healthy Schools Act 2000.
On October 6, 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 405 (Montanez) sponsored by Suwol and California Safe Schools. The bill bans experimental pesticides, whose health effects are unknown from California k-12 public schools.
“California Safe Schools believes children and adults have a right to learn, work and live in a healthy environment. We look forward to continuing our work for decades to come, and thank everyone who has supported our efforts,” said Robina Suwol ,Founder and Executive Director of California Safe Schools.
The preamble to the Los Angeles Unified Integrated Policy states:
"Pesticides pose risks to human health and the environment, with special risks to children. It is recognized that pesticides cause adverse health effects in humans such as cancer, neurological disruption, birth defects, genetic alteration, reproductive harm, immune system dysfunction, endocrine disruption and acute poisoning. Pests will be controlled to protect the health and safety of students and staff, maintain a productive learning environment and maintain the integrity of school buildings and grounds. Pesticides will not be used to control pests for aesthetic reasons alone. The safety and health of students, staff and the environment will be paramount."
"Congratulations California Safe Schools and Los Angeles Unified for creating and sustaining a successful program for thirteen years.", said Shabaka Heru, Executive Director of Society for Positive Action and member of the LA Unified IPM Oversight Committee.
Children spend nearly one-third of their lives at school—what should be a safe space for learning and growing. However, with the best intentions, many school districts use large amounts of chemicals with serious health concerns, instead of opting for lower-risk alternative methods.
The Executive Director of the Del Amo Action Committee and Los Angeles Environmental Justice Network Cynthia Babich added, " I know too well the effects of the environment on human health, and was pleased to be able to serve on the LAUSD IPM Oversight Committee . I wish other school districts would adopt similar protective policies"
For further information:
California Safe Schools
Copyright California Safe Schools 2012