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A federal judge on Thursday ruled in favor of keeping a temporary restraining order in place against T-Mobile until at least June 30, to prevent the telecom giant from activating a cell tower on the top of a Michigan elementary school.
The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit brought by parents of children who attend Washington Elementary School in Wyandotte. The parents allege T-Mobile illegally erected the tower and that the tower poses unknown health risks to the students.
The defendants include T-Mobile Central LLC, the Wyandotte public school district and the town’s board of education and city council.
“I want people to hear us and know that our staff and our community are not pawns,” said Lisa Beck, a parent and one of the plaintiffs. “You can’t play with us and our safety.”
Josh Castmore, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “I have two little girls who go to Washington Elementary and when I hear about the levels of [radiofrequency (RF)] radiation they are going to be exposed to on a daily basis, it is shocking.”
“T-Mobile is refusing to voluntarily agree to keep the tower powered off while the case is pending. It is requiring us to file a motion and obtain an order to do so.”
They also filed a petition for a temporary restraining order to keep T-Mobile from activating the tower.
Five days later, T-Mobile filed to move the case to federal court.
“We believe this is a desperate attempt on the part of T-Mobile to have a different judge look at the same set of facts and reach a different decision,” Castmore told The Defender.
“The case does not belong in federal court, and we will be moving soon to remand the case back to the Wayne County Circuit Court,” he said, adding:
“We are confident that we will prevail in this case on the merits of our claims regardless of the venue. I would feel comfortable arguing this case on the moon if we had to.”
School board made deal with T-Mobile without informing parents
The Wyandotte school board in 2018 approved a deal with T-Mobile to pay the district $1,000 a month to operate a cell tower in the space above the school. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed construction of the tower.
Parents said they never had an opportunity to voice their opinion on the deal.
Castmore told CHD.TV host Michael Kane on the June 13 episode of “Good Morning CHD” that the parents didn’t even learn about the schools’ deal with T-Mobile until they received what Castmore called a “pardon our dust” email on Sept. 23, 2022 — after construction was underway.
That’s when parents started asking questions, Castmore told Kane, and began educating themselves about RF radiation and discovered substantial scientific evidence that it may be linked to long-term adverse health conditions including cancer.
Concern “grew tremendously over a short period of time,” he said.
“One of the frustrations we’ve had with the school board — and city council, really — is that we’ll bring issues up at these meetings, but if it’s not on their agenda they’re not going to talk about it,” Castmore told Kane. “So we specifically asked to meet with our school board and our superintendent so that we could have some of our questions answered.”
The school board agreed to meet with the parents on March 2 — but the meeting was “essentially designed” by the school district to be a presentation to the parents on why the T-Mobile tower project was “good for the district,” Castmore said.
“They gave us some literature that came directly from T-Mobile regarding FCC [Federal Communications Commission] regulations … that we have now found to be troubling and we weren’t able to ask any questions.”
When parents were told they would not be allowed to speak, the “meeting devolved into yelling,” and the superintendent, Catherine Cost, walked out.
The school administration called in the police and made everyone leave. Kane showed CHD.TV viewers clips of news coverage of the meeting.
Kane and Castmore discussed how the Michigan parents have not had direct access to communication with T-Mobile. “Any communication that is to be had is between the school district and the city and T-Mobile,” Castmore said.
T-Mobile on March 27 sent a letter to Cost and Board of Education President Cindy Kinney stating that the company would delay activating the cell tower until students were dismissed for summer break in June.
Now that the tower’s activation is temporarily stopped by the extended restraining order, the next step in the parents’ lawsuit will be to hold a “show cause” hearing “so T-Mobile can explain itself,” Castmore told Kane.
“T-Mobile is in clear violation of our local laws and the cell tower — where it is located — is illegally placed,” Castmore said.
Watch the CHD.TV episode here: