KSAT Defenders investigation: Rats, mice found in Judson ISD school

Paschall Elementary found with damage, droppings

Author: Brian Mylar, Reporter, bmylar@ksat.com
Published On: Nov 01 2012 06:27:14 PM CDT   Updated On: Nov 01 2012 10:00:08 PM CDT
SAN ANTONIO -

The Judson Independent School district has been dealing with a serious rodent problem at Paschall Elementary all year, much to the surprise of parents.

Some of those parents received a letter from the school telling about the problem, but not all parents.

The KSAT 12 Defenders received an anonymous call from someone connected with the school asking the investigative team to look into the matter.

Documents obtained in a Defenders investigation showed that in January, there was a high level of activity of rats at the school. They showed glue traps were set up to catch the rodents.

One report showed “a closet is infested with rats, droppings all over boxes, floor, shelves.”

In February, another document showed “something ate through the ceiling tile.”

Photographs provided to the Defenders after an Open Records Request show one hole in the ceiling of one classroom, two holes in the ceiling of another.

In March, cafeteria staff reported seeing a rodent climbing up a wall. The problem persisted into the new school year and in September, a document request stated “please treat classroom for rats.”

Then, just last month, an email to the school's principal detailed two parent complaints about a mouse problem. More than a week later, Principal Anthony Willard sent a letter to some parents (PDF).

Many parents were surprised to find out about the problem.

Melanie Elizardo has a niece at the school.

"I think that's disgusting,” Elizardo said. “That's unhealthy for the kids to be around that."

Damaris Vazquez has a son in pre-kindergarten.

"(It is) definitely unsanitary,” Vazquez said. “You don't know where those things are when the school is closed."

James Chandler has a daughter in second grade at Paschall.

“I (had) no clue that they had that kind of issue,” Chandler said. “It is very shocking to hear.”

Judson ISD spokesman Steve Linscomb said the district has been aware of the pest problem at Paschall Elementary and has been taking steps to eradicate it while protecting students and staff.

“There were glue boards, there were traps, there was also a small amount of pesticide that was put in some areas so that it wouldn't affect the kids,” Linscomb said.

He said the district has the situation in hand.

"At this point, we have not seen any major activity,” Linscomb said. “In fact, we have seen virtually nothing."

He said the district has used glue boards, traps and pesticide and has hired an outside exterminator.

"We're trying to approach it from two different angles in order to take care of the issue," Linscomb said.

He said the rodents may have invaded the school after an apartment complex was built in a wooded area next door.

For a list of recent stories Brian Mylar has done, click here.