RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina’s public schools are crawling with rats, cockroaches, and other pests, though it may be difficult to tell from local health inspection reports.
Like restaurants, public schools are required to undergo routine building inspections – and more frequent cafeteria inspections – but the scores awarded to local schools by inspectors may be misleading the public, ABC 11 reports.
The system relies on a 0 to 100 scale for cleanliness, but several school reports analyzed by the news site show that even those with seemingly good grades – scores in the 80s and 90s – are rife with vermin.
“The I-Team Troubleshooter went through the inspections for Wake County schools and found several schools with scores below 90. Even schools with scores in the 90s were cited for problems with rodents and roaches,” according to ABC 11.
Briarcliff Elementary, for example, received a score of 93 out of 100 for the 2014-15 school year, despite evidence of “mice found in cabinets” and other unsanitary conditions.
“This is amazing,” parent Lloyda Nova told the news site, “that you bring your kids to school and you think it’s a safe place and they can have mice in the classroom.”
“I think this can harm the kids in some way,” she said.
According to ABC 11:
A similar problem at Douglas Elementary where an inspector in June 2014 reports seeing mice droppings in every classroom visited. Mouse droppings were also found in an April 2015 inspection at a charter school, Southern Wake Academy. Live roaches and rodent dropping were also a problem at North Garner Middle School in July 2015, and live roaches were also found at River Oaks Middle School, Davis Drive Middle School and Apex High.
Despite the problems with mice and roaches, all the schools mentioned above scored in the low to mid-90s out of a possible 100.
The news site points out that inspection officials apparently care less about live rodents or cockroaches roaming the school halls than they do about broken water fountains, or improperly stored cleaning supplies.
In its exclusive analysis, ABC 11 highlighted the fact that the area’s worst scoring schools were cited mostly for broken equipment or other “cleanliness” issues.
“East Wake Middle School scored a 79, and was cited for water fountains not working, broken bathroom equipment and unclean storage closets. Similar problem(s) with bathrooms and cleanliness resulted in East Millbrook Middle School getting an 83.5 score,” according to the site.
“Cleanliness problems in bathrooms and storage areas were also a problem at West Cary Middle School which received an 84.”
“It’s clearly not comforting, mice have never preceded anything good,” Briarcliff parent Justin Reif said. “I would be very interested in what their response to this would be.”
Unfortunately, school officials declined to discuss the district roach and rat infestation with the news site.
Instead, a district spokesman issued a statement alleging “staff from facilities respond within one week of the inspection report being published on the Wake County Environmental Services website.”
“When a work order is issued, staff follow up to make sure the work is completed and that issues have been resolved,” the statement read.
ABC 11 posted the school health inspection reports for a five county area – Wake, Durham, Cumberland, Johnston, and Orange counties – on its website.