Newport Harbor High School students left their classrooms on April 27 to protest rats on campus.
The rodent problem at the school has been spreading and increasing for more than a year, escalating within the last few months, students and staff reported.
“This is actually disgusting,” one protest sign read. “Why are you letting this happen?”
Another sign urged the district to take action and “e’rat’icate” the rodents.
Live and dead rats have been spotted in classrooms and other school buildings, most notably Dodge Hall, and around campus.
The disease-carrying rodents present a safety and health hazard, several students, staff members, and parents pointed out during the protest. A number of people reported headaches as a result of the rat droppings and urine.
The issue has been raised several times over the last several months, according to President of the Newport Mesa Federation of Teachers Britt Dowdy. It’s also a problem at Corona del Mar and Costa Mesa high schools, he added.
Some steps have been taken, but it has not been enough, several people said.
In a statement from Newport-Mesa Unified School District, officials noted that the health and safety of students and staff is a top priority. There is a pest management plan in place to address the issue, according to NMUSD.