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School That Let T-Mobile Install 9 Cell Antennas Near Playground Locked Into 31-Year Contract



Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles on how the wireless industry targets schools for wireless infrastructure installation. Part 1 covered the recent surge and why parents are fighting back. Part 2 covers how T-Mobile put nine cell antennas on a private school in San Diego without parents’ knowledge or consent.

Parents whose kids attend the Rock Academy in San Diego said they’re angry that school leaders didn’t tell them about a deal the school signed with T-Mobile to put nine hidden cell antennas on the side of the school’s building.

The antennas are roughly 50 feet above the school’s preschool playground with the closest antennas only about 20 feet above the playground.

The private school, operated by the Rock Church — one of the largest megachurches in the U.S. — serves over 400 K-12 students and 100 preschoolers. The school and church share a campus.

Rock Church leaders in April 2022 secretly signed a contract with T-Mobile giving the telecom company permission to install the antennas, according to Rock Academy parent Laura Buckley.

“The problem is not just that the Rock failed to inform parents and staff before signing the contract,” Buckley, whose kids are in third, sixth and eighth grade, told The Defender. “They were presumably never going to disclose the antennas at all.”

During installation, the school and T-Mobile hid the antennas behind tarps. “Now they are hidden behind a facade that matches the building,” she said.

“No one would ever have known about the nine antennas had it not been for a mother who happened to be on campus at Christmas break [in early January 2023] when the tarp was down.”

The mother snapped a photo, Buckley said. “That is how people started finding out.”

Tiffany Fletcher, a mother whose sixth grader attends Rock Academy, told The Defender, “Word started spreading like wildfire.”

School tries to be ‘hush hush’

Fletcher, who launched a petition against the antennas, said parents demanded a town hall meeting. The petition so far has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

School leaders on March 2, 2023, held a meeting with parents, but overall “tried to be hush-hush” about the matter, she said, as the Rock Church was concerned about “managing its brand.”

Parents then “raised a fuss” by flyering the church’s congregation — an estimated 15,000 people — with information about the issue. “That got school leaders’ attention,” Fletcher said.

School leaders in March 2023 told T-Mobile the company couldn’t come on the premises.

Parents filed a legal action — a writ of mandate — against the City of San Diego asking the city to disallow the installation of the antennas at the school.

“We tried every issue we could — permitting, fire risk, etc.” That action is currently on appeal, Fletcher said.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile in January sued the Rock Church and Academy, arguing the Rock committed a breach of contract when it denied T-Mobile’s access to school grounds.

T-Mobile brought a motion for an injunction to access the property. In April, a judge granted T-Mobile’s request, ruling that Rock Church couldn’t legally block T-Mobile from the property.

The company plans to activate the antennas after Memorial Day when the school session ends…


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