By Mark F. Gray, Staff Writer, mgray@afro.com

Students and teachers at Parkdale High School in Prince George’s County have complained about a mice problem that was challenged by the school system until social media video painted a different picture when it was released to local media.  In a story first reported by WUSA-TV9 in D.C., the rodent infestation and dilapidated condition of bathrooms have continued despite a previous inspection that was supposed to have addressed the problem.

A previous inspection by the County’s health department last September apparently found mouse droppings in three cafeteria storage rooms and live roaches in the kitchen which reportedly had been addressed. A later inspection in February by the health department found no evidence of mice in the cafeteria, but according to the report, the cafeteria is the only part of the school health inspectors examined.

Students and teachers at Parkdale High School are concerned after facing a mice problem and dilapidated restroom facilities. (Courtesy Photo)

Monica Brokenborough, the school’s music teacher, was reportedly notified by students in her class that Parkdale’s bathrooms were not in adequate condition either.  Her students took cell phone pictures of crumbling ceiling tiles, spots in a classroom with duct tape over what appear to be mouse holes and doors missing from students’ bathroom stalls. Brokenborough spoke on the T.V. news report of how the rest rooms resembled a “jail cell” and were in substandard condition.

“I was absolutely shocked,” Brokenborough said on camera. “The students have brought to my attention that a lot of their bathrooms actually resemble something that’s kind of comparable to a jail cell.”

After the first report, Parkdale’s Principal Dr. Tasha Graves-Henderson issued a statement that was sent home to parents.  The letter stated they are in touch with the Prince George’s County Public Schools Building Services and the work on the bathroom will be addressed within 30 days adding the ceiling tiles would need immediate attention and they are working to complete repairs within the week.

The letter from the principal to the school’s community also said, “there is no rodent infestation at Parkdale High School.  While there were past concerns due to our location and to the proximity of the woods behind school, we do not have any concerns at this time.”

Brokeborough disputed Henderson’s statement and told WUSA9 she had to put duct tape over mouse holes in her classroom.  She also claimed that on several occasions her classes “had to evacuate because of the presence of a rodent.”

However, once the school’s letter was sent home, students bombarded the TV station’s social media platforms with evidence that contradicted the school’s statement.  The videos highlighted mice running around classrooms and climbing into vents caused the most alarm.  They were posted on Twitter and broadcasted during a follow up story which prompted a response from the PGPCS office which read in part:

“Despite regular rodent treatments throughout the school year, a small number of mice have been found, and our environmental teams have been to the school two times this week to address these concerns and will return until the issue is resolved. We will continue to monitor the issue and welcome any feedback from students and staff to ensure we are being responsive to their issues in a timely manner.”

Parkdale High School is a public magnet high school located in Riverdale.  It serves over 2,000 students from Riverdale, New Carrollton and a small portion of Lanham.  It is best known for its International Baccalaureate magnet program.