April 22, 2003
Patrick Wolfe, Environmental Health
and Safety Supervisor
Portland Public Schools
501 N. Dixon St.
Portland, OR 97227-1804
Dear Mr. Wolfe:
We are writing to request that our school be designated a pesticide-free zone, as allowed under PPS School Board policy 3.30.082-P. Our school community (staff, PTA, site council, and/or safety committee) has expressed a preference for having no pesticides (including herbicides) used on the landscape or inside the school.
(Please send us/We understand that we will receive) a confirming letter recognizing our school's pesticide-free status.
We understand that our school retains the right to request pest control services through the district and its pest control contractor should a pest situation arise. We also understand that under district policy, PPS reserves the right to apply pesticides to any school or school ground if it deems that the health or safety of the community or the integrity of physical structures or grounds are threatened by a "pest".
While we understand that rodents, cockroaches, and possibly certain other pests might pose a health hazard, we also recognize that pesticides are inherently toxic chemicals that also pose a hazard. Furthermore, we know that children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of some toxins, including nerve poisons and carcinogens. Students or teachers with allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivities are also at higher risk from pesticide exposure.
Fortunately, we understand that there are many ways to control hazardous or nuisance pests without using toxic chemicals, and that often these methods offer a more effective and permanent solution because they help make our school less hospitable to pests in the first place. We hope that the district will instruct its pest control contractor to use only non-chemical methods to control any pests at our school.
If the district determines that a pest poses a hazard and that non-chemical application methods have not worked and that pesticide application is necessary, we ask that we be provided with written documentation of the hazard and the reasons why non-chemical methods have not worked. We also ask that we be given the opportunity to be involved in remedying any pest problems non-chemically, if this is appropriate. We know that we as building occupants have an important role to play in keeping our school clean and in good repair, and that these measures can help prevent many indoor pest problems. For landscape weeds, we hope that the district will use non-chemical methods (e.g., hand weeding, string trimming, or leaf mulches). If this is not possible because of lack of grounds maintenance staff, we hope that school volunteers will be allowed (and encouraged) to remedy the problem using such methods.
Finally, if chemicals are the only available choice to control a hazardous pest, we hope that only the least-toxic pesticide (such as non-volatile baits) will be used. We understand that we will receive advance notice 7 to 10 days before the district applies pesticides at our school, except in case of emergency.
Thank you for allowing our school to exercise this choice, and for helping ensure that any other sports groups or agencies that use or help maintain our school grounds are notified of our school's pesticide-free status.
Jane Q. Principal
Sunnydale Elementary School
350 N. Sunnydale
Portland, OR 97213
cc: Director of Student Achievement (DOSA)