2011-09-07 / Features

Bedbugs Ignored In Local School

BY CRISTINA GUARINO


Elected officials (Michael Gianaris and Aravella Simotas), are concerned for the safety of the students upon returning to the school, as the new academic year has officially begun this week. Elected officials (Michael Gianaris and Aravella Simotas), are concerned for the safety of the students upon returning to the school, as the new academic year has officially begun this week. Parents and elected officials are furious at Astoria’s P.S. 70 for failing to notify them of a bedbug infestation that has been ignored since last winter.

An inspection was performed at the school in December, in which several bedbugs were found in one of the school’s closets with signs of breeding. No notification was given to the parents, students or teachers. Even Principal Donna Gellar was left in the dark; she was unaware an investigation took place to begin with.

Elected officials are concerned for the safety of the students upon returning to the school, as the new academic year has officially begun this week.

“The Education Department’s failure to notify parents and school officials about the bedbug infestation in a P.S. 70 classroom is outrageous,” Assemblymember Aravella Simotas said. “This type of negligence puts students and teachers at risk, and prevents families from taking necessary steps to protect their children.”

Students who come in contact with bedbugs from outside sources usually cause school infestations. That was the case with most of last year’s bedbug reports, which more than doubled: a whopping 3,590 to the previous year’s 1,019. At P.S. 70, the bugs were found within the school and were allowed to continue reproducing, earning the school the title of the worst bedbug infestation in the five boroughs.

“In the past, when bedbugs were discovered in a New York City public school, the parents of the affected child would be notified along with the parents of the affected student’s classmates,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “This policy seems to have been overlooked at P.S. 70.”


Cimex lectularius (bed bug). Cimex lectularius (bed bug). This story leads many to wonder how many other schools have been discovered to have bedbugs but were never notified.

According to the Department of Education pest control unit, there was no law requiring them to notify the school at the time. However, Gianaris passed a Bedbug Notification Law in August of 2010 in “an effort to stop bedbug infestations from becoming an epidemic by requiring all families in an infested school to be notified of any bedbug cases”. The senator is requesting an explanation from the Department of Education on their failure to comply with said regulations.

“Parents of New York City school children deserve notification from school officials upon detection of bedbugs in their child’s school,” he said. “Children must be able to learn in an environment that is not hindered by bedbug infestations.”

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