Ripon Unified is formally asking Sprint Communications to remove a cell tower from the Weston Elementary campus that some parents contend has caused at least four children attending the school to develop cancer.
The action follows a protest of the cell phone tower on campus Tuesday where more than half of the students at Weston Elementary stayed home.
And later that night, the parents spoke out – packing the council chambers at Ripon City Hall to formally request that the Ripon Unified School District Board remove the tower from campus that has been in operation for the last decade.
Leading the charge for the parents in their unified fight against the tower – which is owned and operated by Sprint – is Monica Ferrulli, whose son Mason was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017 that a doctor told her was “100 percent environmental.”
Just a month ago, another student – 11-year-old Brad Rex who lives across the street from the school on Stanley Drive and is in a classroom near the tower – noticed a small bump on his abdomen that was later revealed to be a tumor that was wrapped around his liver.
The district has formally requested that Sprint either decommission or remove the tower as soon as possible and noted in a statement that the proceeds from the placement of the tower are “negligible,” but admits that they are only 10 years into a 25-year contract with the company.
“There has also been some discussion as to whether the small (amount of revenue) derived from the rental of this cell tower space to the district is somehow biasing the district against these people in the community who wish the tower be removed,” the district said in a statement posted to its website. “The district has responded by confirming that the income from this tower is negligible and the district has also requested that the cellular phone company relocate or decommission the tower as soon as possible.
“However, it should be noted that approximately 10 years ago the district, before any of the current board members or administration, entered into a 25-year contract with the cell phone company which requires it to honor the lease for this tower location. There is no legal contractual basis on which the district can demand the cell phone company remove the tower, however we are working together with them to come to a mutual resolution.”
A representative from Sprint has reiterated that the company’s goal is to provide wireless service to Ripon’s residents, and that “when it comes to the deployment of network infrastructure” Sprint always strives “to achieve a win/win process with local municipalities and residents.”
In its statement, the district noted that they have required multiple independent tests to ensure that the tower is “performing within the guidelines established as safe by current government and global standards” and that the “tests have shown that this tower is operating safely.”
The district has suggested that anybody with comments or concerns about the cell tower contact Norton at Sprint Corporate Communications at 425.256.7014. She can also be reached at email@example.com.
Electromagnetic fields emitted by transmission lines and cell towers have long been a subject of debate,
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.