Students, teachers protest ongoing rat problem at Newport Harbor High School

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- People are outraged over an ongoing rat problem at a Newport Beach school, which has led to protests.

Dr. Britt Dowdy said cellphone video shows a rat inside Newport Harbor High School's Dodge Hall last week. He said the problem started two years ago. He gives the administration and the district credit for taking action but said it hasn't been enough.

"(Students) have been exposed to rat urine. They are worried about hantavirus and HPS," Dowdy said. "They took a lot of protocols to try to reduce the number of rodents that were on campus and it was relatively effective for some time."

He is the president of the union that represents teachers at the school.

With stories of rat poop and urine on desks, students and teachers held a protest Friday demanding something be done.

"It's like a big issue because we hear a lot of them crawling around the vents. Then at night, sometimes we see a lot of them just running around the quad and stuff," student Yuza Taddeo said.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District provided the following statement:

"The health and safety of our students and staff is always a priority. The school and district maintenance staff has an on-going Integrated Pest Management program consistent with state safety guidelines."

Dowdy said he has not heard from the district except for a letter banning him from campus this week and blaming him for the disruptive protest.

He said he was there to support teachers and is fed up with what it takes to be heard.

"For students to have to come out of the classroom and protest to get a change to the sanitation of their classroom is not OK," he said.

The Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers is filing a formal complaint with CalOSHA and seeking legal action regarding the letter.
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