Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Gail Pinsker

SMMUSD Spokeswoman Blames Observer For "Misinformation" on Public Health at SamoHi

"The illnesses should not be considered 'mysterious,' as at this time, they are just undetermined"


February 16, 2017

The illnesses should not be considered "mysterious," as at this time, they are just undetermined

We have had a challenging few days here with some misinformation first published by you, and while you took down the story, it appears that wire services picked it up and damage was done. I've spent three days making corrections and clarifications.

To name a few errors, by recall, as I did not print out the story, now not accessible:

- Sandy Cano, Kelly's mom, is a school nurse in our district, not Samohi.

- The illnesses should not be considered "mysterious," as at this time, they are just undetermined. We do not expect to know the cause of death, unless the family chooses to share with us and media. We are not allowed to provide info based on FERPA law. I would appreciate it if you could change the remaining headline reflected on both stories.

- Vanai Jelks was not at a cheerleading tournament when she became ill. She was a basketball player and involved in theater at Samohi. She had been home and became ill.

We expect better clarification later today on the cancellation of optional activities and what exactly DPH is recommending to us.

This also may be by school, based on number of student illness still being reported. In other words, we will likely have some schools that have zero cases for a few days as requested by DPH and they can resume optional activities, while some schools may continue to have additional cases and we will keep this recommendation in effect until no cases are reported for a few days.

I see today that you have referenced the LA Times story. Sandy Cano originally shared on Saturday that the hospital doctor did state that it was not likely related to Norovirus and just learned that she has updated the info to reflect that her doctor stated that it could be. The DPH is investigating as stated in the press release.

We rely on our local media to get the facts right and not sensationalize issues. We are telling all we know at this time as the investigation continues by DPH. (see attached press release).

At the District, we all care about all our students and staff, and are always looking out for their best interest. We closed a school when it was deemed necessary, and we would take whatever action needed to further protect student health and safety.

Thank you,

Gail Pinsker, Community & Public Relations Officer, Santa Monica - Malibu Unified School District

County Dept. of Public Health Statement

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is investigating a recent death of a santa monica high school student. Public Health is working closely with the Santa Monica- Malibu Unified School District to protect the health of the students, staff and the community and will provide the school community with information and any services should this be necessary.

Because of medical confidentiality and privacy, Public Health is unable to provide any information on the details of individual cases or their contacts.

If you feel ill, stay home and contact your doctor or health care provider for further care.


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