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Sparks fly over use of Wi-Fi

Safety concerns over radio frequencies lead to heated exchange at district meeting.

December 21, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

School officials addressed parents’ concerns about Glendale Unified’s use of wireless Internet this week, vowing to continue using the technology during an impassioned meeting that had one school board member speak out against local parents’ allegations.

La Crescenta parent Winston Story, who began collecting dozens of signatures against the district’s use of wireless Internet in November, said he’s concerned that parents were not made aware that wireless Internet had been installed in classrooms.

He also said the constant exposure to radio frequency waves from wireless devices and routers may pose a health hazard to children.

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“God forbid there’s a spike of any adverse health effects from this unnecessary blanketing of Wi-Fi in our schools,” Story said during a school board meeting Tuesday. “I guarantee your advisers who’ve managed to steal every one of your moral compasses, silenced your own voices and parental good common sense, and have collectively gagged you all this whole time, will treat you all with the silence you’ve been treating parents who care about this with this whole time.”

To which, school board member Mary Boger gave an impassioned response.

“I do not appreciate having my moral compass questioned,” Boger said. “I can tell you that it points to true north where our students are concerned.”

At a previous meeting, Story referred to a May 2011 study by the World Health Organization which found that being exposed to radio frequency electromagnetic fields could potentially cause cancer.

The agency concluded that electromagnetic fields are “possibly carcinogenic” and cautioned people about a possible link between the use of cellphones and increased cancer risk.

Story’s child is a student at Mountain Avenue Elementary, which also serves families living in the Sagebrush area of La Cañada Flintridge and where the district installed wireless access points in every classroom earlier this year as part of a districtwide project to install wireless Internet.

Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said the district did its due diligence in researching wireless Internet, and that school officials would no longer publicly discuss the matter unless new information surfaces.

“I am confident in our decision with the knowledge we have in our world today,” he said.

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