Federal Judge Extends Temporary Restraining Order on Activation of School Rooftop Cell Tower

By B.N. Frank

A growing number of Americans don’t want cell towers and antennas near their homes or their children’s schools due to health and safety risks (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21).  For example, earlier this year in Wyandotte, MI, parents as well as legislators and an associate professor started protesting the installation of a T-Mobile 5G antenna on an elementary school’s rooftop.  The superintendent claimed it would be too expensive to break the contract, though not long afterward, she resigned.  Some of the parents filed a lawsuit against T-Mobile and earlier this month a local judge granted a restraining order on the tower’s activation.  More recently a federal judge ruled in favor of extending the restraining order.

From Children’s Health Defense, The Defender:

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Parents Seeking to Prevent T-Mobile From Activating Cell Tower on School Roof

A federal judge on Thursday ruled in favor of extending a temporary restraining order against T-Mobile until at least June 30, to prevent the company from activating a cell tower on the top of a Michigan elementary school pending resolution of a lawsuit parents filed against the telecom giant.

By Suzanne Burdick, Ph.D.

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.”

He added:

“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.”

Castmore and co-counsel Robert Berg, a class action lawyer with experience litigating cell tower cases, on June 1 filed a lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court to get the cell tower removed.

They also filed a petition for a temporary restraining order to keep T-Mobile from activating the tower.

The next day, the court issued the restraining order, making it illegal for T-Mobile to turn on the tower for 14 days.

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.

To date, 3,390 people have signed a petition asking that the tower be relocated.

“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:

Suzanne Burdick, Ph.D., is a reporter and researcher for The Defender based in Fairfield, Iowa. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Austin (2021), and a master’s degree in communication and leadership from Gonzaga University (2015). Her scholarship has been published in Health Communication. She has taught at various academic institutions in the United States and is fluent in Spanish.

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