Judge hears arguments in PCB case that could delay Burlington’s new high school

Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 4:43 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A judge heard arguments Monday in a court case that could delay Burlington’s new high school.

The legal fight centers on the city’s old high school and the decision to condemn it based on PCB contamination.

Two former teachers and the Burlington School District are both suing Monsanto, the company that manufactured the cancer-causing PCBs found at high levels in the old high school.

In contesting those lawsuits, Monsanto wants to preserve evidence and has asked a judge to block the demolition of the old school that was slated to begin later this month.

No final decision came out of the hearing on Monday, but there was a sense the demolition could be postponed. The parties will meet again next week.

The attorney for the Burlington educators, Bill Leckerling, says the judge made it clear things should proceed rapidly because of the tight timeline involved.

The school district is racing the clock to build a new school on the property by the start of the 2025 school year. A delay in the demolition of the old building could impact that goal.

I reached out to Monsanto’s owner, Bayer, for comment. A spokesperson said the building contains other health hazards such as lead and asbestos issues, which is why they need to investigate the school before demolition. In a statement, Bayer said, in part, “The Company’s position is that its inspection and fact-finding regarding the school’s condition, maintenance and how it deteriorated over time are vital to its defense of both cases, which make conclusory allegations that PCBs alone are responsible for health conditions and the need for a new school.”

I reached out to the Burlington School District for comment but they declined.

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