Vandals Trash School Playground

Honey Lavender Macarons
Tamara Palmer

Vandals have trashed an elementary school playground, which is at the center of controversy in Carlsbad amid community concerns over the possibility of cancer clusters, according to the Carlsbad Unified School District.

Construction workers, who were renovating Kelly Elementary School, found building materials thrown about, trashcans upturned and a portable toilet knocked over with its contents spilled to the ground, said Superintendent John Roach, Ed.D.

The vandals also left lewd graffiti on a storage container at the site.

On Tuesday, construction workers received verbal assaults, Roach said.

"The verbal assaults centered on the concerns of some people in the community regarding the possibility of cancer clusters in Carlsbad; specifically within proximity of Kelly," the superintendent said in a written statement.

The district has informed police and hired security personnel to patrol the school, Roach said.

"We do not want or support any kind of destructive behavior,"said Travis Burleson.

He is one of the many concerned residents who are spearheading the effort for soil testing.

County Supervisor Bill Horn is also urging the Carlsbad school administrators to allow for soil testing at Carlsbad High School and Kelly Elementary.

In a letter written to Roach, Horn expressed concern for parents who believe there is a high rate of cancer at Kelly Elementary and the surrounding area.

"I encourage the Carlsbad Unified School District to work with the families, many of whom are willing to personally fund any tests," the letter said. "Summer break seems like the ideal time to perform this testing and it would go a long way toward recognizing the concerns of parents, who are no doubt anxiously awaiting for additional action to be taken."

When contacted by phone, Dr. Roach declined to comment about the letter until speaking with the school board first. But he did express his opinion about the soil at Kelly.

"I don't have any indication there's anything wrong with the dirt," Roach said.

He also said when the findings from a state cancer cluster investigation are revealed on Monday, he'll "be surprised if there is an excess number of cancers in Carlsbad."

Dr. Roach said the school board is reluctant to approve any type of testing until state experts say there is a need for it.

Kelly is currently undergoing summer renovation, including the construction of a new playground.  Some of the soil in the playground is being dug up and moved to another location.

Some parents wanted the soil left alone until testing is done.

"They should definitely get somebody out here to test it before they move anything," said Scott Chandler. "I mean it could be contaminated soil."

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