WJUSD and pesticides
Fall 2018: Woodland school district suspends use of Roundup
See press release here
The Healthy Schools Act of 2000 requires that districts adopt integrated pest management practices to avoid spraying, above all, but especially not to spray while children are in school. If after other non pesticide alternatives fail and the district feels it must spray, parents legally have to be notified 72 hours in advance and the area demarcated 24 hours ahead of time with flags left up for 24 hours after application.
One of the herbicides that was being applied is glyphosate, better known as Roundup which California EPA placed on Prop 65 list of agents known to cause cancer in 2017 and which the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had designated in 2015 as a 2A "probable carcinogen."
In 2017-18, the coalition uncovered that:
But things are getting better:
a) the district's pest plan was incomplete and two years old
b) the district was blanket spraying quarterly [and not only as needed] without written observation of pests
c) they had been spraying while children were in school.
d) kitchens were sprayed with an insecticide called bifenthrin (suspended for use in the European Union in 2009 as a suspected carcinogen)
Our most important discovery was that the district had not read or had misunderstood the Healthy Schools Act as applying only to insecticides.
This means that parents who had signed up for pesticide notifications were given no warning about herbicide applications. But, herbicides *are* pesticides Nor were groundskeepers who applied Roundup and other herbicides on school campuses flagging those areas. And, in clear violation of the law, the district had regularly failed to report these herbicide sprayings to the Yolo Agricultural Commissioner’s office.
- 1. the form for parental notification is now available on the district webpage (though we don't understand why they can't just notify everyone, including teachers through the robo call system). [CLICK HERE to sign our petition that everyone be notified]
- 2. In September 2018, the district hired a new pest control company that follows principles of "integrated pesticides management"--meaning that they will only spray when all non-pesticide options have been exhausted.
- 3. Facilities manager Nick Baral confirmed via email on 10/8/18 that the district had suspended the use of Roundup.
Here are more details of how citizen parents got these reforms made:
October 23, 2017- Robo call that Beamer elementary would be sprayed on Friday, October 27 and that more details were posted at the school.We checked, yet, nothing was posted. We checked the next day - still nothing. Finally on the afternoon of October 26, a retro-dated notice appeared that the kitchen would be sprayed the next day from 1 pm onward. The area was never demarcated.
Dr. Grandia figured out that the insecticide, bifenthrin, was banned in the European Union. She made an urgent comment to the board of trustees that night. The spraying at Beamer was postponed, but we aren't sure what happened at other schools.
November 17, 2017 - To learn more, WCGS filed a public records request to learn about pesticide practices at Beamer.
See the attached documents that show:
- time of day is missing
- herbicide spraying was never reported to parents
- insecticides have been routinely applied to kitchen while children are in school and in the after school program.
- the district was blanket spraying on a quarterly basis rather than as needed.
January 27, 2018 - Coalition member, Amanda McGregor spoke at the board meeting about irregularities observed at other schools.
March 8, 2018 - updates
DATE: WCGS learned from the Yolo County Commissioner's office that the school district had not regularly reported the herbicide sprayings, nor were staff demarcating the areas so that teachers and pupils know what campus areas to avoid.
1. Amanda McGregor - first hand investigation of what's been happening with pesticides in school kitchens.
2. Liza Grandia: 3 minute comments to the school board on disturbing details from the California Department of Pesticides Regulation's investigation of pesticide practices in the Woodland school district
3. Pesticides 101 -- 20 minute briefing on Facebook -- on the breaking state investigation of WJUSD for repeated violations of Healthy Schools Act in spraying pesticides.
August 27, 2018 - Susan Pelican authors a guest editorial, "Superintendent is silent on pesticides"
September 29, 2018 - Although she had never spoken about this issue at a trustee meeting or to coalition members, at the League of Women Voters' forum for school board candidates, incumbent Tania Tafoya announced, "We've halted the use of a chemical herbicide Roundup."
October 4, 2018 - District spent several thousand dollars on a 4-page letter dated September 18, 2018 that was mailed to all parents/staff about changes to its Integrated Pest Management plan. Most of it is good news. WJUSD will subcontract a new company that will make greater efforts to seal cracks, set out glue traps, and use other non-chemical prevention practices rather than blanket spraying.
October 8, 2018 - A follow-up email to facilities manager Nick Baral confirmed that "District staff has suspended use of Round-Up (glyphosate)."
Why do parents have to fill out a special form to be notified? Why not call all parents?
Why are teachers not entitled to be notified for their own health and as sentinels for our children?
Most importantly, has the district banned weedkillers entirely OR have they just substituted other toxic weed killers for Roundup? If the latter, will the district start notifying parents before it applies weedkillers and demarcating the areas that have been sprayed (as required by law)?
Not to mention,
LA Joint Unified, the largest school district in the country, has been herbicide free for two decades through creative practices to reduce pests and weeds. It is possible to go organic on a large scale!