Seeking to control a campus weed problem without using potentially harmful chemicals, Los Angeles Unified School District officials have voted to allow use of a low-grade herbicide while continuing to explore such alternatives as a heat wand.
Neither method appears to kill weeds at their roots, officials said, but both adhere to the district’s pest control policy adopted in March, which calls for the phasing out over the next three years of hazardous pesticides and herbicides.
The majority of the district’s 15-member pest management teamwhich is composed of administrators, teachers, parents, community members, environmental activists, health officials, and scientistsvoted to allow the use of Scythe, a low-risk herbicide made from a naturally occurring fatty acid.
“This will enable us to get the weeds under control,” said Rick Henry, the district’s integrated pest management coordinator and a member of the pest management team.
Weeds have become unruly on the grounds of many of the district’s 668 schools, leading to complaints from principals and parents concerned about children stumbling on grassy patches on asphalt playgrounds. Homeowners have also objected to weeds making neighborhood campuses ugly.