UPPER MARLBORO – Parents and activists—including the head of the Prince George’s County chapter of the NAACP—continued their fight against cell phone towers being placed on school property.
At the Prince George’s County Board of Education’s first meeting for the 2014-15 year several parents spoke out asking the Board to not allow cell phone towers to be placed at Benjamin Tasker Middle School and Charles H. Flowers High School.
The Board of Education previously approved the construction of cell phone towers on public school grounds on Nov. 11, 2010, during a public meeting. The leasing master agreement between Prince George’s County Public Schools and Milestone Communications, the cell phone tower provider, was signed on Feb. 7, 2011.
Milestone selected 73 potential school sites, including Tasker and Flowers, according to the leasing agreement.
Bob Ross, president of the Prince George’s County Branch of the NAACP also spoke out against cell phone towers, compared the cell phone tower issue to Love Canal, a neighborhood in upstate New York where tons of toxic waste was buried without the public’s notice.
“The same thing could happen with cell phone towers,” Ross said.
Ross went on to further tell the board that they should do their due diligence in researching the effects these proposed cell phone towers could have on students.
“I love technology,” Ross said. “But if there’s a possibility of harm to our children, we shouldn’t do it.”
Charlene Bearisto, a mother of a child at Bowie High School was one of the most vocal parents at the meeting against the cell phone towers. She is part of a coalition which has generated a petition with more than 1,000 signatures.
“There are significant health concerns that concern me and other parents about the proposed cell phone towers,” Bearisto said “I don’t want my child, your child or any child to suffer from Leukemia.”
Lynn Beiber, another Bowie resident, also expressed concern about the unknown effects the cell phone towers would have on the health of students.
“We won’t know for decades the effects. It is a huge question mark there.” She said “Even the EPA on their website has a question mark about the effects they could have.
Beiber also went on to question the economics of the proposed deal.
“It’s time to step back and exercise cautionary principles, if you insist on it, at least you could do is a get a better deal,” she said. “Why is it we have a no-bid contract?”
Bearisto said she feels strongly about the danger from towers that she is willing to remove her daughter from Bowie High School if towers were ever to go up at the school. Bearisto also said she thinks the Federal Communications Commision’s standards regarding radiation from cell phone towers are too lax.
“The current FCC standard for RF (radio frequencies) is like setting the national speed limit at 115 mph, and saying, see, everyone’s in compliance,” she said.