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Inspection uncovers problems at Jefferson High School

May 02, 2001

Inspection uncovers problems at Jefferson High School



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


For the second year in a row, a health department inspection at Jefferson High School has uncovered a list of problems including lack of soap, paper towels and toilet paper in student bathrooms, and cigarette smoke in the bathrooms that is "thick as fog."

Randy DeHaven, administrator of the Jefferson County Health Department, said he has been told that students are dismantling soap dispensers in the bathrooms and urinating in them. Students are also throwing toilet paper down hallways, DeHaven said.

DeHaven said he considers the lack of soap and towels in the bathrooms a "serious public health issue," especially in light of the fact that health department officials are increasingly stressing the importance of hand-washing.

The inspection also revealed an ant infestation throughout the school, termite activity, water-damaged ceiling tiles, dirty air vents and rodent activity in a teacher's lounge, DeHaven said.

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A health department inspection last year revealed many of the same problems. That inspection showed restrooms were not being serviced enough to keep them supplied with soap, paper towels and toilet paper and toilets were being clogged with paper towels, cigarette packages and feces.

The report also noted that whirlpools in a training room were not clean, air ducts were dirty and smoking is occurring in nearly every student bathroom.

"I know my son told me the restrooms are terribly dirty," said Rose Gerstner, whose son is a senior at Jefferson High School this year.

Associate Superintendent of Schools Bev Hughes said Principal Edna Rothwell told her that she was not aware of the ongoing problem at the school. Rothwell came to the school last August.

"As soon as she received it, we certainly all reacted to it. There was certainly no intent to ignore it," Hughes said Tuesday.

Rothwell could not be reached for comment.

Rothwell and John Norman, the coordinator of facilities for the school system, have developed an action plan to address the deficiencies, Hughes said.

Jefferson County Board of Education member Pete Dougherty said the health department inspection resulted in a "less than good report." Dougherty said the school district has been increasing the maintenance budget at the high school to address the problems, and he hopes those spending increases can be continued.

Hughes said school officials do their best to monitor student bathrooms in an attempt to control vandalism and mischief. Regarding cigarette smoking, which is illegal on school property, school officials have considered installing high-tech smoke alarms in bathrooms to detect when students smoke, Hughes said.

Those devices, however, can be costly, Hughes said.

Last Saturday, a group of teachers, students and administrators volunteered to clean the school and do some other projects to spruce up the property, such as planting flowers outside, Hughes said.

"I was out there recently and some of the restrooms looked brighter," Hughes said.

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