DeKalb parents protest cell phone towers in schools

11:57 AM, Jan 8, 2012   |    comments
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(File Photo)

They're becoming more common at our children's schools: cell phone towers installed by wireless companies that pay the school districts for the privilege.

Some DeKalb County parents are taking a stand against it.

"The citizens of this area do not want a cell phone tower at our elementary school," said Stephanie Byrne of No Briarlake Tower.

So said the dozens of parents and children who led a Saturday march along Lavista Road in Atlanta. It began at Briarlake Elementary, one of nine schools where the DeKalb County Board of Education plans to put cell phone towers. It ended at T-Mobile, the carrier that is putting in the towers.

"Our point is about the misuse of land," Byrne said. "They want to use it for commercial purposes, and we want to use it for educational purposes."

There were a handful of signs citing the potential health dangers from cell phone tower radiation, although many studies, including from the World Health Organization and American Cancer Society, have said there's little evidence to support that theory.

But many of the complaints came for a different reason.

"This is one campus that's getting smaller, but what are they gonna do next?" said parent Andrew Owen.

Added Byrne, "I would like them to prove this is about whatever they think it's about, because it seems like it's about money."

To that charge, school officials say, it's precisely about money.

Said DeKalb County Schools spokesperson Walter Woods, "This offers us an idea, a way, an avenue, to bring in additional funding, some $25,000 per school."

That's in addition to the reported $2+ million in rent T-Mobile will pay the school district over the next 30 years.

As for the towers themselves, Woods says, "They're out of the way of all school business, so the students aren't involved with the towers at all."

A spokesperson for T-Mobile said simply this is not a new concept. They have placed cell phone towers in schools across the country, including many in metro Atlanta.

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