Parents address school board leaders about rodent infestation at Norfolk elementary school

Posted at 11:21 PM, Oct 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 17:30:13-04

NORFOLK, Va. - When parents of students at Sherwood Forest Elementary School filled the auditorium looking for answers on Tuesday night, they say they didn't get the answers they were looking for. They say they weren't notified about a rodent infestation inside the school.

So they attended a school board meeting Wednesday night to address the school districts superintendent and the board.

"The initial call was the robo-call I got was that they had a rodent issue," said Karriem Hinnant. His child is in the first grade.

These are are pictures taken from inside the school showing things like a dead rodent and rat feces. Hinnant says he found out last week Thursday. Hinnant and many other parents say they panicked and took their children to the doctors.

Hinnant's son is OK, but that's not the same story for other parents.

Related: Some parents keep kids home amid concerns of state of Sherwood Forest Elementary School in Norfolk

"They don't care that my child tested positive," says Brooke Goddard. She says her first grader tested positive for asbestos. "I cried! My child is now going to have a lifelong struggle with breathing."

Over the weekend leaders say contractors also checked the air quality at the school.

"Based on the test results there are no problems with the air quality," said John Hazelette, the acting deputy superintendent of operations.

Some parents are calling for action.

"I want the school to shut down," says Gooddard.

School board chair Dr. Noelle Gabriel says she admits that parents should've been informed about the infestation earlier, but the school is safe.

"Based on the report it says the levels are safe for children and members to be here," Gabriel said.

Superintendent Dr. Sharon Byrdsong says she agrees. "If it were my child I would send them," Byrdsong said.

In a statement, Byrdsong said that the Norfolk Public Schools administration's next steps will be to conduct a thorough air quality sampling of every classroom and all common spaces within the school; conduct a full interior inspection of the school; and continue to monitor outdoor bait boxes and potential entry points.

"Please know that the safety and security of students and staff continues to be the number one priority of the NPS administration," Byrdsong said.