Attorneys for students and teachers at a West Los Angeles elementary school Friday filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and a developer over forthcoming construction of a mixed-use complex adjacent to the school.
The proposed class-action suit, filed in Los Angeles on behalf of plaintiffs at Palms Elementary School, alleges that construction would “shower their school and playground with cancerous dust and other toxic chemicals.” Plans for developer Hiro Kobayashi’s project, according to the lawsuit, moved forward with little review and with no “protections” for students or teachers.
The City Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the 23-page complaint, the kindergarten playground shares a fence-line with the lot at 3568 Motor Ave., where demolition, excavation and construction is set to begin shortly. The development reportedly calls for construction of a six-story building featuring 42 apartments and about 1,800 square feet of street-fronting commercial space.
The school is one of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s four dedicated Deaf and Hard of Hearing sites where students wear sound amplified assisted listening devices, plaintiff’s attorneys said.
“The construction noise will make it impossible for those students to participate in school, and in many cases cause them pain,” the suit alleges. “Some of the DHH students are as young as 3 years old. In fact, the noise will interfere with the concentration and learning of all the students at the school.”
According to Derek Spencer, a Palms Elementary kindergarten teacher, “the noise would be truly detrimental to the learning process, especially to our DHH and other special needs population.”
The city and Kobayashi say that the project will last at least two years, according to the lawsuit. Palms Elementary has an enrollment of about 350 students, the majority composed of minority students, lawyers said.
According to plaintiffs attorney Olu K. Orange, the city is ignoring the health of school children by allowing the project to go forward.
City officials have shown a favoritism for “developer money over the health of L.A.’s kids and teachers,” Orange said. “We intend to definitively remind everyone what matters most.”
–City News Service
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