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Florida Parents Reject ‘Absurd’ Active Shooter Narrative, Succeed in Keeping Cell Tower Off School Property

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Good for these parents!  Now, get your kids out of those indoctrination centers.  Pasco County, Florida, parents rejected the narrative that telecom companies had to install cell towers due to the possibility of an active shooter, and in the end, won the day.

Suzanne Budick, Ph.D. writes at The Defender:

Telecom companies often tell school boards they need to install cell towers to protect kids and staff during active shooter scenarios. Many parents and attorneys say that claim is false and that the towers pose a health risk to students.

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles on how the wireless industry targets schools for wireless infrastructure installation. Part 1 covered the recent surge and why parents are fighting back. Part 2 covered how T-Mobile put nine cell antennas on a private school in San Diego without parents’ knowledge or consent. Part 3 covers how parents defeated a tower proposal by debunking the claim that school kids needed the tower to be safe in an emergency.

Florida parents were shocked when they heard their superintendent say he believed Starkey Ranch K-8, an elementary school in Pasco County, needed to allow a cell tower to be built next to it to handle an active shooter scenario.

“This was an absurd and frightening thing to hear,” Erin Stroupe, a Starkey Ranch K-8 parent and mother of three, told The Defender, “The school had been open and operating at full capacity for two years.”

The claim that the school’s students would be unsafe during an emergency without the proposed cell tower turned out to be false — but the wireless industry commonly propagates such claims, an investigation by The Defender has found.

Attorney Robert Berg, who represents parents in multiple lawsuits challenging proposals for cell towers or wireless antennas at their kids’ schools, told The Defender that cell tower companies make “false claims intended to convince the school boards of a need to have cell towers on school property.”

“Typically the argument they use,” he said, “with every school district that I’ve encountered is like, ‘God forbid that there’s a school shooting’ … that’s one of their false claims they use to try to scare districts into accepting towers on their property.”

That’s exactly what happened in Florida last year at Starkey Ranch K-8, Berg said.

Vertex Towers, a wireless infrastructure development company, in April 2023 proposed to install a tower on the school’s grounds, next to its track and about 400 feet from the school building. Vertex planned to lease out the tower to multiple wireless carriers, Stroupe said.

On April 18, 2023, the school board approved plans to install the tower based on “security issues,” Stroupe said, despite two hours of testimony from parents citing concerns about possible health impacts from the tower.

“If there’s any risk at all that the radiation emitted from these towers could cause even one child to be sick,” said one resident during the meeting, WFLA reported. “That should be reason enough to vote no.”

During the meeting, Superintendent Kurt Browning said — “on record,” Stroupe emphasized — that he was worried the school wouldn’t be able to handle an active shooter scenario with the current cellular service.

Stroupe, who recently spoke on CHD.TV about the meeting, and other parents doubted Browning.

Parents prove superintendent’s statement to be untrue

Given the school was brand new, open and operating, Stroupe said, “we were confident that it met all safety guidelines,” as there were already two large cell towers within a mile of the school.

She and other parents fact-checked Browning’s statement with the Florida Board of Education’s Office of Safe Schools. “We confirmed that the school had met every safety standard required.”

The Office told them in writing, “Starkey (Ranch K-8) has the means to communicate with emergency services and is in compliance with state statute regarding Alyssa’s Alert,” she said.

Alyssa’s Alert refers to a state law requiring Florida’s public schools to implement a mobile panic alert system that can connect multiple emergency services during an emergency.

Landlines and Wi-Fi calls work in an emergency

Berg wasn’t surprised that Browning’s statement turned out to be false.

“Emergency service providers have separate, redundant communication systems for themselves,” he said, “so that’s a non-starter.”

School staff and students need to be able to call out during an emergency — but it doesn’t take a cell tower to accomplish that. All it takes are robust landlines and Wi-Fi-enabled cell service, Berg said. “You can have fiber optic cable powering the Wi-Fi system in the school. … That’s the solution.”

“I’ve made presentations to school boards around the country. I tell them, ‘You don’t need a cell tower. Just enhance your in-school Wi-Fi-calling ability and anyone can make a cellphone call in the school,’” he added.

Stroupe and other parents — armed “with binders detailing the research we had done and explanations of alternative means of improving cellular service within the school” — urged their county commissioners, who also had to sign off on the proposed tower before it could go up, to find a different site.

“We were able to convince them to postpone this lease agreement while they looked for an alternative location,” she said.

The county commission found another location on county property, at the back of baseball fields down the street from the school, she said. “This is not ideal, but it is better than directly over the heads of every student who attends Starkey Ranch K-8.”

Cell towers should be 500 meters from schools, commission says

The New Hampshire Commission — a team of independent experts convened by the state to answer questions about the impacts and safety of cell towers and wireless radiation — concluded in 2020 that cell towers should be 500 meters (roughly 1,640 feet) from schools.

Former commission member Kent Chamberlin, Ph.D., pointed this out in a June 10 letter to the school board in Fauquier County, Virginia, whose members were about to vote on a cell tower proposal at a local high school.

As The Defender previously reported, wireless developer Milestone Towers recently proposed a cell tower at one of Fauquier County’s high schools.

In his letter, Chamberlin told the school board, “I strongly encourage you to protect the children, faculty, and community by denying towers on school properties in Fauquier County.”

Engineering expert: Cell towers susceptible to jamming

Chamberlin — the former chair of the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department at the University of New Hampshire — has years of research background in biomedical and radiofrequency engineering.

He now serves as president of the Environmental Health Trust, a nonprofit scientific research and education group focused on the effects of wireless radiation.

Jenny DeMarco, co-founder and communications director for Virginians for Safe Technology, told The Defender that some board members in favor of the new cell tower had cited emergency safety reasons.

Chamberlin — like Berg — said a cell tower wasn’t the way to go for ensuring communication during an emergency.

“More robust approaches to emergency communications,” Chamberlin wrote in his letter, “can be achieved through wired phone lines and the use of Wi-Fi calling inside the school buildings.”

Chamberlin said he researched alternative means for providing communications in emergencies for the U.S. Department of Justice because prior research showed cell towers sometimes fail during times of high usage.

Additionally, cell towers can be easily jammed using cheap equipment sold on the internet, he said.

Putting more cell towers on school properties is part of the wireless industry’s business plan to build out its networks, which may “make communities much more vulnerable to security, hacking and other issues,” Chamberlin said.

The Fauquier County School Board on June 10 voted 3-2 to deny Milestone Towers’ proposal.

Berg applauded the school board’s decision.

“There’s no reason in the world for a school to have a cell tower on the property,” he said. “They pose the wireless radiation risk and they pose a serious public safety problem because — in many locations where you have hurricanes, tornadoes — these things can topple over on the building.”

They can also catch on fire, he said. “So you’re creating a public danger to the students and staff and visitors just by having the thing on the property.”

Article posted with permission from Sons of Liberty Media.

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