Stop Environmental Injustice in Cudahy!

Residents in Southeast L.A. have been hit hard by environmental injustice. For decades, children and community members have been exposed to high levels of lead pollution from an Exide Recycling Plant in Vernon.[1] In January 2020, a Delta Airlines jet dumped jet fuel on children and teachers at a local Cudahy elementary school.[2] Now, KIPP, a giant corporate network of charter schools,[3] is trying to build a school for kindergarten to eighth graders on a hazardous waste site in Cudahy.[4] The site has high levels of arsenic, tetrachloroethylene (“PCE”), and other toxic chemicals. If these chemicals aren’t cleaned up, they can cause serious health problems like cancer, diabetes, brain, kidney, and liver damage, can harm children’s immune systems and development. High levels of exposure can even cause death.[5] The school will also increase traffic and pollution in an already heavily trafficked area, and will have serious negative impacts on children and staff at the eight other schools within a mile and a half of the project site.[6]


Cudahy Alliance for Justice is a group of teachers, parents, and community members that have come together to protect our children, our community, our public schools, and the environment. We’ve done everything we can to stop the City of Cudahy from allowing KIPP to build an elementary and middle school on this toxic site. We’ve held car protests, made videos, zoomed in to City Council meetings to make public comments, sent letters, organized petitions, and called our elected officials. We’ve asked the Cudahy City Council to deny the project, or at the very least, conduct an environmental review of the proposed school under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and legally require KIPP to clean up the site before they begin construction.


We had big wins early in the year – in February 2020, the City of Cudahy Planning Commission refused to issue permits for the school. But, in response, KIPP’s corporate lawyers intimidated the Cudahy City Council into approving their project in September 2020. The California Environmental Quality Act requires that, before approving this type of project, the City Council must study how the project would impact the environment and human health, conduct an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”), share this information with the public, and take steps to prevent harms to the environment and the community. They didn’t do any of this, and didn’t legally require that KIPP clean up the hazardous waste before building a school.


This left us with no choice but to file a lawsuit to protect our environment and the community. We want the City to follow CEQA’s legal requirements, investigate what building this school will do to the environment and the health of our children and neighbors, and make sure that the City protects the environment, the community, and our kids from this project.


Cudahy Alliance for Justice is the only thing stopping KIPP from building a school on a hazardous waste site and putting countless kids and the Southeast Los Angeles community in danger. We are primarily comprised of committed teachers, small business owners, and working people. Seventy-two donors from our community have generously provided $3,762 in $5-$300 donations. Though we are committed, we don’t have the same resources as a corporate charter school. In order to protect our kids, our environment, and our community, we need your help. Please donate to join us and prevent another environmental injustice in Southeast L.A.



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Organizer and beneficiary

Susie de Santiago
Bell Gardens, CA
Ayde Bravo Berrios

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