The Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board voted Tuesday to spend up to $20,000 on two software platforms to create reports, track progress, and notify parents and staff about pest control at school sites.
From 2016 to 2018, the District faced embarrassing scrutiny about a rat infestation at Newport Harbor High School.
Cal-OSHA found violations related to rodent abatement at Newport Harbor, Corona del Mar, and Costa Mesa high schools in May 2018, said Britt Dowdy, president of the Newport Mesa Federation of Teachers.
PestRoutes is an online platform that will create reports, including photos of problem areas and records of pest activities, for the District’s pest management team. Three Hill Path also provides a platform to schedule pesticide use and a portal for parents and staff to register for notifications about their schools, according to a staff report
“Both are software to help us streamline our processes, so we are grateful that the Board approved them,” district spokeswoman Annette Franco said.
The Healthy Schools Act of 2000 requires school districts to allow parents and staff to register for prior notification of planned pesticide use 72 hours beforehand, according to a staff report. Environmental advocates have recently stepped-up calls for public agencies to stop using pesticides because they’re harmful to predators.
Dowdy said district staffers and students deserve to know what steps are being taken for rodent and pest abatement.
“Despite the vigilance of teachers, our district does not have a track record of quickly fixing reported problems, nor being transparent about those solutions, Dowdy wrote in a prepared statement. “The teachers’ union … hopes the new tracking program will help district leadership better monitor vermin problems, if they occur in the future.”