Local activist Mark Graham this month filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court against the Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD). He seeks to force the school board to hold a hearing on the placement of 4G and 5G cell antennas near the district’s campuses.

AT&T is attempting to bring 5G or the fifth generation of wireless technology to Elk Grove. This technology is marketed as potentially providing speeds 100 times faster than 4G technology.

Graham, who runs the website, www.KeepCellAntennasAwayFromOurElkGroveHomes.com, has been an outspoken opponent of proposed cellphone antennas in Elk Grove and he argues that radiation from those antennas pose a public health hazard.

In his lawsuit, Graham asks that the board approve a resolution opposing new cell antennas near their schools, offer a district staff-produced Electromagnetic Pollution and Injury Awareness Day, and cooperate with the city of Elk Grove in persuading AT&T and Verizon to not place new cell antennas near schools.

“The city, AT&T and Verizon are preying on students,” Graham wrote in a press release. “New cell antennas near schools will cause students to use their phones more at school, taking their minds and attention away from their classes and teachers.”

City-owned light poles have been approved by the city as new cell antenna sites near the following schools: Cosumnes Oaks High School, Franklin High School, Edward Harris Middle School, Toby Johnson Middle School, Laguna Creek High School, Monterey Trail High School and Elizabeth Pinkerton Middle School.

Through separate deals with the AT&T subsidiaries, Verizon Wireless and New Cingular Wireless PCS, the city approved 37 new cell antenna sites.

According to the lawsuit, the city has not yet issued its first cell antenna permit, and the district “has the opportunity and the ability to affect it.”

Graham, in his lawsuit, claims that placing cell antennas near the district’s schools would also create a health issue.

“This is about the health of EGUSD students,” Graham wrote in the lawsuit. “The city of Elk Grove is not responsible for maintaining or safeguarding the health of EGUSD students; nor is AT&T or Verizon. But EGUSD is.”

Graham mentioned that he filed his lawsuit after he made various attempts to have the school board discuss this issue.

“They refused, claiming that new cell antennas near schools was none of their business,” he said. “But in June, the district asked the city to intervene with AT&T on behalf of three of its schools, and AT&T agreed to not install a new cell antenna at Laguna Creek High School. It will apply for a permit for a cell antenna on a new light pole across the street, away from the school.”

Exhibited in the lawsuit is a letter from Karen Rezendes, an attorney representing the school district.

In that letter, she notes that the district made “continuous efforts to reasonably respond and provide (Graham) with information regarding why (his) requests are outside of the district’s jurisdiction.”

Rezendez also itemized the district’s denial of Graham’s requests within her letter, and mentioned that Graham has continued to make the same requests via email messages, phone calls and requests for meetings.

She wrote in her letter that the cell antenna location issue is “within the subject matter jurisdiction of the city, and that the electromagnetic pollution topic is additionally a subject outside of the district’s discretion.”

“The district has no regulatory power over (that) topic,” Rezendez wrote.

Graham said that he is frustrated that his requests have been denied.

“(The district’s) response basically has been ‘Forget it. Whatever you’re selling, we don’t want any,’” he said. “They’ve misinterpreted my request in order to justify denying it. I want them to put (the issue) on the agenda for a regular school board meeting – not just one little part of it, but the whole thing.”

EGUSD spokesperson Xanthi Pinkerton told the Citizen that the district does not comment on pending litigation.