McClymonds High School chemical scare: Families angered by lack of answers at emergency meeting in Oakland

ByKris Reyes KGO logo
Friday, February 21, 2020
Oakland's McClymonds High School closed for chemical testing
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McClymonds High School in Oakland is closed while officials test for possible chemicals in groundwater around the campus, the school district confirmed to ABC7 News.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Emotions ran high at a two-hour emergency meeting as parents demanded answers about the safety of their school.

"There should have been an apology and then you should've told these parents to get their kids checked, that's what should've been done," said one parent.

Another former student of the school said he attended the meeting because he's worried about a history of environmental problems in the area.

"This has been going on for years and you need to have representatives from the state and feds here to address these young people's educational opportunity," said Moses Sullivan who says he's a cancer survivor and went to school with others who died from cancer.

RELATED: Oakland's McClymonds High School closed for chemical testing

The meeting that took place at a church hall in Oakland was led by officials from the school and the Oakland Unified School District.

Many were upset by the robocalls they got the night before.

"Fear, panic, I didn't know what was going on, I knew that it was something really bad," said Monique Brown.

Representatives from Oakland's Unified District gave a briefing of what they do know - the school's drinking water is not affected but the TCE levels found nearby were high enough that it could vaporize into the school's air. That testing is underway.

"I made the decision out of an abundance of caution given that we do not know the results of the testing," said Supt. Kyla Johnson-Tramell.

But others in this room say they're fed up, this incident is just the latest scare they've had to deal with over the years. High levels of lead have been found around the school before. Two students died from cancer, one in November, the other in 2017. Repeatedly parents asked officials to address a possible connection.

Edgar Hendrix, a parent of a senior said, "you don't have a solid answer, hypothetical this, hypothetical that, we didn't even get that."

"I don't want to look back many years from now and wish I had taken my kid out of this school," said Brown.

"There's a lot of questions out there," said Jeffrey Taylor, principal of the school. "I still have a lot of questions best way we can."