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Dear MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith- Time to Protect Students Not Promote Pollution

Dear Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith, I am writing to you on an important issue regarding our children’s hea...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Transparency and Liability Issues with Wireless: November 12, 2015 Letter to Montgomery County School CEO Dr. Andrew Zuckerman

November 12, 2015

Dear MCPS CEO Dr. Andrew Zuckerman,

Thank you for your email asking for a meeting. We are concerned that you stated you would not respond in writing to our questions nor would you allow us to record our meeting so that we could document MCPS’ response. You wrote me on November 2, 2015 that “I regret that we are unable to provide you detailed written responses to your questions.”

If MCPS staff cannot answer questions nor understand the health implications of an environmental exposure that MCPS is creating ...then MCPS should not be exposing kids to it. 

You could easily avoid extra staff time on this by simply installing safe technology.

I am writing to ask for answers to specific health and safety questions.  I have had previous meetings with Sherwin Collette and have not received  a full response to the questions we asked in that meeting nor in response to my subsequent letters and emails. He specifically stated that if we had questions we should contact him. We did and received no answer.

You wrote me on November 8, 2015  that “the reason to meet as opposed to exchange emails/written communication is because the questions you asked are detailed in nature and require extensive staff time and resources, which unfortunately are limited.” Forgive me if the list of questions detailed here is long but the fact is that this issue is complicated and requires a thorough understanding by your staff. As MCPS is installing the transmitters we believe MCPS has a responsibility to answer these questions about their own transmitters.

I have listed below the full questions that MCPS can answer either in written communications or in a recorded meeting. Answers need to be documented so that there is full clarity and we do not misunderstand each other. Our questions involve parental choice, parental notification, transparency, due diligence and liability.


Why aren’t all parents being informed about simple classroom measures that will reduce the risk to our kids. Such choices are already in place in a few schools after parents asked.
  1. Moving children’s classroom seats out from under the WiFi transmitter\access point. Many parents have requested their children be moved in classrooms from sitting right under the WiFi access point to further away in the room. They are changing seats in class.  WiFi access points are radiating all day long in classes even if the devices are not in use so this is an easy way to increase distance and decrease exposure.
  2. Allowing children to use a wire to connect to the internet. We understand that MCPS schools are allowing children to use a wire with their Chromebooks because parents have requested it. This way the child is not getting direct radiation from the laptop or tablet when it is being used in classes. However, most parents are unaware this option exists.

Why aren’t parents being notified and fully informed about the following:
  1. Location of Microwave Transmitters in Building: Why is MCPS refusing to inform parents, teachers, students, and staff about the location of wireless transmitters in the classrooms? Parents have told me they are not allowed to be sent maps showing the location of access points in their child’s school building. Instead they must go to the central office and cannot write down the information?
  2. The Fine Print Regulatory Instructions For Chromebooks and Ipads: Why is MCPS refusing to inform students and staff about the fine print warnings ( FCC instructions)  in the manuals of the laptops and tech devices which they had purchased for students?
  3. The Fine Print Regulatory Instructions on Cell Phones: Why is MCPS refusing to inform students about the fine print warnings in cell phones? MCPS has a policy allowing them in school and MCPS allowing students to use MCPS Wi-Fi on their cell phones and more important MCPS is utilizing cell phones as a classroom tool in several classes. Yet students are unaware of how to follow government regulations printed in the manual.
  4. The Potential Health Risks of The Radiation: Parents have a right to be informed about the health risks related to this technology. The World Health Organization classifies this as a class 2 B human carcinogen and all parents should be aware of this. In addition, health authorities recommend research into the neurotoxic effects that have been shown in several studies.  Parents need to be aware of the potential damage to the brain, the immune system, the reproductive organs and increased cancer risk. MCPS informs  parents about the legal use of pesticides in school already and this is no different.

  1. CEO Andrew Zuckerman Wrote that Responses Would Not Be Put Into Writing: Why can't MCPS detail answers to our questions? MCPS staff needs to understand this issue enough to answer the questions. Then Mr. Zuckerman stated he would meet but not allow videotaping. Why not? Why can’t we document the current position and stance of MCPS? Where is the transparency?
  2. The Radiation Report Is Not Being Released: In the spring of 2015 Mr. Collette stated that radiation readings would be done by the end of the spring semester.  Please share this report with the parents, as Mr. Collette stated he knew the results in a Sept 21 BOE meeting. We have asked, called and filed a public information request over a month ago.
  3. Parents Barred From Observing the Radiation Readings: Why did you barr parents from observing the radiation measurements?  If MCPS wants to be transparent then when a school is having radiation reading done- a Safe Tech parent should have been present to observe.  The refusal of MCPS to allow an observer could invalidate trust in the results.
  4. Parents Put Off Who Inquire About Measuring the Devices: Why are parents who have asked to come in and take radiation measurements with their own devices being put off and ignored? Some parents have waited months and still no response?
  5. Three Years of Ignoring Parents: I have personally been writing and informing  MCPS for three years on this and still have not received answers. This is unacceptable as I am raising a health and safety issue. Three years ago, MCPS should have spent staff time and resources to consider this issue and develop a risk management plan.

Decisions have been made by MCPS but no rationale as to the due diligence taken has been provided to parents by MCPS:
  1. Cherry Picking Which Health Authorities To Listen To: Why does MCPS choose to highlight the government stance of England and Canada  rather than Israel, Spain, Austria, Belgium or France?  Please explain in detail how this decision was made and how and why the information from different countries was weighed differently.
  2. Ignoring the Concern of Pediatricians: Why is MCPS holding up FCC exposure limits as an assurance of safety when the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a re-evaluation of FCC limits because “children are more vulnerable” to the radiation?
  3. Ignoring Current Best Available Science: I have sent copious research and statements by medical doctors showing harm after exposure to wireless radiation. We understand that MCPS staff came to Dr Sharma and Dr. Davis’ talk at George Washington University in June of 2915.  Research was presented showing genetic damage from radiofrequency radiation.  MCPS staff was there and heard the scientists state that Wi-Fi in school was not recommended because it was experimentation on children and could have grave consequences.  Watch the video of the talk here. See my question about wifi in school and Dr Carlo’s answer at 1:29:30. Why have you not included any of that expert information?

I contacted MCPS about insurance coverage for long term health effects and was told that MCPS is self insured and does not have insurance coverage for this issue. If children get sick as scientists state is quite possible, then there will be lawsuits.

  1. Exclusion of Coverage for Illness from Long Term Exposure: Lloyd’s of London is one of the largest insurers in the world and it’s  recent renewal policy -as of Feb. 7, 2015- excludes any coverage associated with exposure to non-ionizing radiation. In response to a parent's request for clarification, this response was received on Feb. 18, 2015 from CFC Underwriting LTD, London, UK agent for Lloyd’s:

“The Electromagnetic Fields Exclusion (Exclusion 32) is a General Insurance Exclusion and is applied across the market as standard. The purpose of the exclusion is to exclude cover for illnesses caused by continuous long-term non-ionizing radiation exposure....”  They also state they will exclude coverage related to an entity's omission to warn about these potential long term effects. Read the it here.

Why is MCPS setting itself up for lawsuits from damages from harm from these devices plus from not informing and warning families about the potential harm?

2. Swiss Re Insurance company stated in 2013 that “Over the last decade, the spread of wireless devices has accelerated enormously. … This development has increased exposure … If a direct link [to health effects] … were established, it would open doors for new claims and could ultimately lead to large losses ...” Swiss Re rates the “Unforeseen consequences of electromagnetic fields “ as having an “Overall potential Impact of High”. Read the 2013 Report HERE.

With the inevitable lawsuits MCPS will have, this will translate to taxpayer money being spent on lawsuits. Why are you risking not only our children’s health but also our taxpayer money?

3. Are teachers and administrators aware they could be liable? Will the fact that School Officials refuse to inform parents, teachers and students about the warnings in Safety Manuals and Disclaimers that come with cell phones and other wireless devices make them liable? The fine print warnings correspond to federal law and MCPS is failing to inform their students and staff of the instructions.

As school officials have now been fully notified of this risk, they could be personally held legally responsible for the injuries to our children caused by continuous long-term non-ionizing radiation exposure because they did not act to minimize risk. Are School Principals, Board of Education members and administrators aware they could be personally held liable?

4. The Los Angeles Unified School District Accommodated a Teacher Who Fell Ill After Wireless Installation  Read it here Letter of Accommodation from Los Angeles Unified School District  The letter states that,  “After reviewing and taking into consideration all of the documentation you submitted as part of your request, the information you presented during the meeting, and reviewing alternate accommodations, the Committee approved your request to have the Wi-Fi turned off in your classroom during the 2014-2015 school year. As an alternate accommodation the Committee also approved a reassignment to a different school site where Wi-Fi has yet to be installed.“

What about teachers who fall ill from the radiation? How will they be accommodated?

5. Many scientists and medical doctors are pointing to the real possibility of children being injured from long term exposure to this radiation. Teachers and school administrators  are obligated to anticipate that certain situations may prove harmful to students. Steps should be taken  to prevent avoidable injuries. If you do not take our concerns seriously, and injury occurs, you could be liable because the injury was foreseeable.

How will MCPS deal with the financial liability for the thousands of students entrusted to its care?

In conclusion, MCPS is choosing to risk our children’s health and our taxpayer money and we parents deserve to know why and how.

MCPS could meet the goals of their strategic plan with a safe wired infrastructure and follow the Best Practices recommended by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools. Download the Criteria HERE. Such simple solutions will mitigate this serious risk and protect the health and financial stability of the county.

I look forward to your response to these important questions. We all agree the safety of our children is our first priority.

Theodora Scarato LCSW-C

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