Parents: Remove bats from elementary school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- More than 700 students attend Abess Park Elementary School. Seven-year-old Max is one of them. His parent is concerned about a bat problem in the school.

"It is just frustrating when you have a child who has asthma like my son," said Kara Pemberhty, "I just don't feel they're protecting him."

Pemberthy now believes the school's bat problem is affecting her child's health.

"He's been coming home with burning eyes an upset stomach. Could it be a connection?" she asked,

Kari Jenkins is the school's PTA communication chair. Her two children also go to the school.

"We have only discovered this because our children came forward and said there were bats in the building," said Jenkins, "and we were told this has been on going for a year with nothing being done."

Jenkins said while the district now admits there is a presence of bats on the campus, she said the school has failed to reveal to parents the scope of the problem.

"We've got rooms that are permeated with the smell of ammonia, the smell of urine, droppings," said Jenkins.

The Duval County School Board, in a statement, said they "have taken immediate action."

Paul Soares is the district's Chief Operating Officer and taking the lead on the problem

"What we have done is we have sealed the building," said Soares, "and Wednesday we are going to walk it and if we need to do more environmental testing we will."

Soares said the classrooms are safe, the campus is safe.

"We have identified the point of entry and installed a on- way door," he said, "We are convinced that these efforts will resolve the issue."

But parents are not so convinced that the one way door will address their concerns.

The school is sending home a notice to all parents describing the scope of the problem and reassuring parents that the Abess Park Elementary Campus is safe for children, safe for learning."I believe we need to get the children out of those classrooms, clean up the ceiling tile, get rid of the excrement and make it safe to be in those classrooms," said Jenkins.

Jenkins said on Tuesday night that DCPS Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is handing the bat investigation. The PTA was told by the maintenance staff that nothing was found and that maintenance efforts will continue.


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