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Outrage & Fear Over Rat Infestation At Texas School

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(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – There’s outraged and fear from parents and students tonight over the situation happening inside one North Texas school. Teachers have been tested for diseases, while parents wonder if their children are safe.

The problem centers on the rodent infestation at Pinnacle Academy.  Decisions on how to deal with the vermin have parents clashing with administrators.

People began to suspect something was wrong a few months ago when classroom snacks started showing up on the floor. “The goldfish had been gotten into or eaten by rats,” explained Jeovani Zamarripa, who has a child attending the south Fort Worth school.

Soon rodent droppings and claw marks appeared often enough for parents and teachers to photos inside the charter school.

Parent Brandy Anderson said, “It’s completely unacceptable. I’ve considered home schooling my kid or finding a new school.”

Students who spoke to CBS 11 News said they’ve had some classes moved outside, while trying to prepare for state exams in two weeks. “It’s just harder to concentrate, because all of the papers blowing around you and stuff,” 5th grader Riley Stephen explained.

Even little Olivia Parham, who is in first grade at Pinnacle, could tell something wasn’t right. She said, “I’m seeing crayons under the desk… they’re chewing them up.” When asked what she meant by “they” Olivia responded, “The rats.”

School officials recently sent a note home to parents assuring them classrooms would be sanitized during Spring Break. But a CBS 11 crew noticed signs of rodents while walking through a classroom on Tuesday.

Mother Kristina Pena doesn’t believe school official’s kept their word. “Nothing was done,” she said. It still smells.”

John Dodd is superintendent of the Honors Academy School District, which is already on probation with the state. He said he’s ordered and documented the pest control measures that have been taken over the last weeks. “As of tomorrow [Wednesday], we’re bringing in an infrared camera in order to x-ray the walls, to make sure that all rats are removed.”

Administrators did consider the serious enough that they had teachers tested for the Hantavirus disease – a virus that can be contracted by contact with rodent droppings.

Adults said the offer for testing was not extended to students. One parent said, “Over the past six months I think everyone feels betrayed.”

Some rodent traps were visible at the school, but there were also newspapers stuffed in holes where rats can enter the building. Parents say it’s a sign of how little the school cares about the problem.

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