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Parents Question Unauthorized Pesticide Use at Junior High

An attempt to get rid of squirrels and gophers at La Colina Junior High has sparked concern among parents. The Santa Barbara Unified School District hired a subcontractor to get rid of the animals when other means didn’t work. The district said the company applied an unauthorized pesticide on the campus in early August.

Parents said they believe some of the highly toxic pellets didn’t disintegrate and made students sick last Tuesday. David Shapiro said his daughter was in a class with a substitute teacher who told the class to “tough it out” when students complained of feeling sick. They voiced their concerns during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Superintendent David Cash opened the meeting by reading a one-page statement about the pesticide pellets found at the school site on Sept. 6.

Cash said the district only heard two complaints and did not find any evidence of illness caused by the pesticide.

He attributed the problem to a faulty gas regulator that was turned off by the gas company on Sept. 17.

Dr. Janette Hope, M.D. said she will keep her daughter home from school until the she feels that it is safe from toxic chemicals.

Hope said the zinc phosphide, the unauthorized pesticide used by a subcontractor named Agra Turf, could be deadly.

Cash said all the left over pellets were vacuumed up and the affected areas were covered with mulch on Sept. 14.

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