PATERSON, NJ - Students at the Academy of Sports Business, Management and Administration cleaned out their lockers on January 25. Some of them may have wished it was the end of the school year. No chance. It was simply a precautionary measure after a bed bug was found in the school the day before.
"This school took immediate action and called an exterminator,'' said Paterson Public Schools spokeswoman Terry Corallo. "No pesticides were sprayed because that is not the proper procedure. You only spray when there is an infestation which was not the case here. The exterminator came back the next day to verify the same. No additional bugs were found but as a precaution, all lockers were cleaned.''
But parents are not satisfied. They say this was the third incident involving bed bugs at the State Street high school in recent months. The previous two, they said, resulted in students being moved from one classroom to another. The parents also have criticized what they call the school district's lack of communication on the problem.
"This keeps going on and on,'' said Sharon Savage, president of the Parent Teachers Organization at the school. "They need to do something.''
"We're trying to put a stop to this before it becomes widespread,'' said David Lawrence, vice president of the parents' group. Lawrence said most of the information parents have heard has been second- or third-hand through students. "This is the school's fault for not informing the parents about this,'' he said.
But, Corallo said, "Parents are only notified if it is determined that pesticides need to be sprayed...We do appreciate the concerns of parents and plan to have an upcoming meeting for all PPS parents to address this issue as a general topic.'' Corallo said the district knew of one other incdent - around Thanksgiving - when two bed bugs were found at the school.
Lawrence and Savage said they had not heard of any student being bitten by the bugs. Nor have they heard of widespread sightings.
"They say they only found one, but they're like roaches,'' said Lawrence. "If you see one, there's usually hundreds of them hiding someplace else.''
Studies have found that the tiny parasitic bugs carry no diseases, but their bites produce annoying and persistent rashes.