Parents, activists fight construction of cell phone towers at Prince George's County schools

Members of the Maryland Coalition Against Cell Towers on School Grounds. (WJLA photo)

TEMPLE HILLS, Md. (WJLA) – Parents are joining forces with activist groups to try to stop the construction of cell phone towers at some schools in Prince George’s County.

A new group called the Maryland Coalition Against Cell Towers on School Grounds—consisting of parents and community activists from four counties throughout the state—says such towers have no place on school property, citing health and safety concerns.

“Children shouldn’t be forced to go to school and be radiated through their entire childhood,” said parent Charlene Beairsto. “School should be a safe zone.”

Parent Roussan Etienne said, “If you can’t put ‘em on county buildings, why are we putting ‘em where our most vulnerable—our youth and our children?”

Construction of towers has already begun at Green Valley Academy in Temple Hills. Nine other school locations are in the development process; Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie is the next projected site.

The towers were approved in 2009; the contract calls for more than 70 towers, a plan that could net Prince George’s County Public Schools $2.5 million over five years.

A PGCPS spokesman says there were numerous notifications and that “Constructing cell phone towers involves several steps in a months-long process and involves both the school system and county agencies. There are on-going opportunities for community members to voice their opinions.”

Thea Scarato, of Safe Schools for Prince George’s County, said, “They may have followed the rule of the law in who they had to notify with pieces of paper, but the people didn’t know; parents didn’t know.”

Activists have been successful in stopping the towers in both Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties, and say they will now try in Prince George’s County.

“We have a petition, we’re looking at legislation,” Scarato said. “We’re looking at a lot of options.”

“We entered the race late on this, but we gotta run twice as hard to make sure that the voices of the people are heard,” said Bob Ross with the Prince George’s County NAACP.

The American Cancer Society says there is very little risk of getting cancer from exposure to cell phone towers.

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