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Bedbug Hysteria Hits Manhattan School

NYC Dept. Of Education Catching Grief Over Critter Policies
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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — It just keeps happening.

On Wednesday there was a school bedbug scare, and this time there are accusations the Department of Education may be making the problem worse.

Parents and students bugged out, saying DOE policies are wasting time, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

First grader Kiara Dattoma and her parents Frank and Patricia live in fear that PS 87 may have bedbugs and Kiara could bring them home.

“I think they are scary,” Kiara said.

“Be proactive, shake everything out,” Patricia added, when asked what she does to check for the critters.

Last week the Association for the Upper West Side School sent home warning letters saying that a single bedbug was seen in the gym by a school employee.

“People are freaked out and it’s not necessary. Let’s find out,” parent Tania Secor said.

Secor and other parents said the DOE waited too long, several days, before acting.

On Wednesday night the DOE sent an exterminator to the school but an official report was not immediately ready.

Teachers and other school staffers were being told it is not enough to simply report a bedbug sighting. They must actually catch one of the little creatures and send it in to the DOE.

“Asking principals and teachers to take dead bed bugs and put them in an envelope and send them to the Department of Education is not the way you are going to deal with this problem,” Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said.

Stringer said budget cutbacks have left public schools with fewer exterminators to go around, creating unacceptable delays of a week, even longer.

“The lack of quick response is causing an epidemic in the public schools,” Stringer said.

The DOE denied Stringers’ claim that there is currently an epidemic. But Stringer said if the schools don’t create a faster, tougher plan of attack, many more schools will become bedbug zones.

The DOE defended the policy that bedbug specimens must be provided before a lot of taxpayer money is spent to exterminate them.

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