Suffer the Children

Carcinogen samples from local schools are off the charts

Despite his short tenure as district superintendent, Camarillo is widely praised and respected among Somerville parents. "He'll do what's best for the kids," says Barbara Lewis.

But during his hour-long interview for this story on October 29, Camarillo repeatedly expressed unease about the situation and how to proceed. "I'm a first-timer here, going, 'Whoa,'" he said.

At that point—more than two months after receiving the data showing astronomical levels of contamination in the schools—Camarillo still had not informed parents, students or teachers about the testing and the results. He said that none had expressed concerns.

Two days after the interview, he posted a short notice addressed "to the Somerville community" on the school district's Web site:

"Some citizens of the community have inquired about health concerns caused by indoor attic dust at our schools. Please know that Somerville ISD is aware of these concerns, and is taking prompt action to address the issue. School officials will be meeting with independent experts from Texas A&M University in the near future to assess the issue and seek an analysis of dust concentrations and recommendations on remedial action, if any..."

In his interview, Camarillo said evacuation is a possibility, but he's waiting to find out what happens in the courts.

"I don't want to send out the message that people need to leave yet," he said. "We may get to that point. We may be victims, and that may be established soon enough."

For the full story on the town of Somerville, see American Toxic.

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