Monroe School District
Sky Valley Education Center

Monroe (Wash.) district offers $34 million settlement to people exposed to toxic chemicals

Feb. 8, 2022
Students and staff filed lawsuits after contracting illnesses from being exposed to PCBs at Monroe's Sky Education Center.

The Monroe (Wash.) district is offering a $34 million settlement to students and parents who were exposed to toxic chemicals at the district's Sky Valley Education Center campus.

The Seattle Times reports that the district proposed the lawsuit settlement in November under court seal.

The $34 million offer is the maximum allowed under the school district’s insurance policy “in order to protect [the Monroe School District’s] finances and its ability to continue operating,” the district said.

In 2014, the district found that Sky Valley was plagued with poor air ventilation and the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a chemical linked to cancer and other illnesses. The light fixtures at Sky Valley started failing in 2014 and they leaked sticky, yellow PCB oil into classrooms.

Children and staff at the education center contend that they became severely ill, reporting cancers, brain damage, hormonal problems and skin conditions.

Subsequently, more than 200 parents, teachers and students filed a series of lawsuits over the conditions at Sky Valley. The suits assert that the Monroe district was slow to remove PCB-laden light fixtures from the campus, even after the Environmental Protection Agency stepped in to guide officials and encourage a swift cleanup.

At one point, school officials certified in writing — and assured parents — that all the PCB-containing material had been removed from Sky Valley, but an EPA inspection later revealed that wasn’t the case.

Court documents state that the Monroe district doesn’t accept responsibility for hazardous conditions at Sky Valley. Instead, the district defended its cleanup efforts on campus, saying it acted appropriately to remove toxicants and inform parents.

Monsanto, the chemical manufacturer of PCBs, has gone to trial in two of the lawsuits, in which juries awarded 11 people a collective $247 million

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