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Published: Monday, 6/9/2003

Health dept. faults TPS restrooms

BY SANDRA SVOBODA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Restroom conditions at Libbey High School prompted parents to notify the health department. Half of the 28 schools that were inspected had similar shortcomings. Restroom conditions at Libbey High School prompted parents to notify the health department. Half of the 28 schools that were inspected had similar shortcomings.
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Half of the 28 Toledo Public Schools buildings inspected last month had problems with student restrooms, Toledo-Lucas County health department records show.

Among the worst was Libbey High School, which was cited for broken toilet seats, missing soap and towels, and inaccessible facilities in several restrooms.

“Budget cuts cannot be a reason for lack of hand-washing supplies,” the inspector wrote in the May 21 report.

Twila Page, secretary of the African-American Parents Association, said her group notified the health department about the condition of Libbey's restrooms after students complained to members.

“They voiced their concern that there was not toilet paper, soap, and paper towels,” Ms. Page said. “Something has got to change. Not providing the basic necessities like toilet paper and soap, that's just crazy.”

Libbey Principal Howard Brown said the school was repairing the restrooms and ensuring they are supplied. He said supplies ran short when the district changed the stocking system from centralized to school-based.

“They're in good condition. We're certainly in the midst of repairs. They're fixing the things the health department said to. There are paper towels in there. There are soap in there and toilet paper,” he said.

Dan Burns, acting chief business manager, said when he receives reports about faulty restrooms, he orders action.

“I take it very seriously,” he said. “Whenever those reports come to me, they're addressed right away.”

Mr. Burns said the district is upgrading restrooms with new fixtures that will hold more supplies so that they won't run out as quickly. This summer nearly all schools will receive new soap, paper towel, and toilet paper dispensers that have covers, he said.

“We'll provide training for our staff to make sure they can identify when one side is empty,” he said.

Health department inspectors visit schools four times a year - twice to inspect the food service facilities and twice to view the overall building, said Konni Sutfield, department supervisor. The first building-wide inspections usually occur during the first three months of school, with the second evaluation done in the few months before the end of the school year, he said.

“Schools typically plan to do things during winter break, spring break, and over the summer,” Mr. Sutfield said. “To be fair to the schools, it's easier to get things accomplished when children aren't there.”

While nearly half the Toledo Public Schools buildings inspected had restroom problems, among the seven diocesan schools inspected, one had a restroom problem, according to the records. St. Joseph's in Maumee did not have warm water in two restrooms, the report said.

At Eagle Academy, soap and towels were missing from second-floor boys' and girls' restrooms, many restrooms lacked toilet paper, and one urinal had feces in it, according to the report. The inspector recommended the school “thoroughly clean restrooms on a daily basis.”

According to health department inspection forms for Toledo Public Schools:

  • Birmingham Elementary School did not have any restroom problems, but health inspectors recommended the building be exterminated once a month for cockroach “infestation.”

  • Beverly Elementary School and Grove Patterson Academy each had a girls' toilet covered with a bag; Cherry Elementary School had broken pipes and a damaged commode in a boys' restroom; Garfield Elementary School was missing toilet seats from girls' and boys' restrooms and had a “foul odor” present in each restroom; Mayfair had no cold water in a boys' restroom; Lagrange Elementary School had inadequate hot-water pressure in a boys' restroom and paper towels; Riverside Elementary School had inadequate hot water and pressure in a boys' restroom and was missing a toilet seat, a repeat violation; Sherman Elementary School had a broken sink in a boys' restroom and inadequate cold water in another;

    At the junior highs: Byrnedale had graffiti in a girls' restroom, and a boys' restroom was missing a towel dispenser; Robinson restrooms had broken toilets, all boys' restrooms were missing toilet paper, and several restrooms were missing towels, stall doors, and soap.

    Among the other high schools inspected in May, Waite was missing soap in a women's restroom, and Woodward was missing toilet seats in a boys' restroom.

    At Stewart Elementary the health department inspector noted: “All handwashing facilities must be equipped with soap and single-use paper towels at all times to help assure that all students are properly washing their hands effectively.”

    He wrote that school officials said teachers give baskets of soap and towels to students when they use the restroom.

    Stewart Principal William Keaton said while teachers do keep extra hygiene materials in the classrooms, any restroom problems have been corrected.



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