PAHOKEE, Fla. — A Palm Beach County commissioner is giving a local school a bad grade after complaints surfaced regarding conditions inside the building.
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay is putting pressure on the Palm Beach County School District to clean up Pahokee Middle-High School. The issues came to light during a town hall meeting and after two school board members visited the school.
Ju'leah Hill serves up smoothies and ice cream inside KWAR Smoothie Shop in Pahokee. She's a proud graduate of Pahokee Middle-High School, but said the building has a plethora of problems.
"It's very old and the lockers in the gym, they're rusty. It's very bad," said Hill, who graduated in 2017.
School board members said they found mold in classrooms, damaged windows and doors, and problems that went unaddressed for years.
"In the gym we have all kinds of animals like snakes that will fall out the ceiling, and rats," Hill said.
Last week, McKinlay wrote a letter to the Dr. Donald Fennoy, the Superintendent of Palm Beach County schools, about what she calls disturbing conditions.
"You wouldn't walk into a school in Wellington or Royal Palm Beach or other parts in my district and see those types of conditions," McKinlay said. "The students in Pahokee shouldn't have to go to school in those conditions either."
McKinlay said these issues need to be fixed before the new school year.
"They need to expedite the repairs and make it a safe and healthy learning environment for the children who go to school there," McKinlay said.
In an email to WPTV, a district spokesperson said:
"The District's Division of Facilities Management is actively working on the campus of Pahokee Jr./Sr. High School this summer conducting repairs and upgrades. Some of that work includes, but is not limited to, installing emergency management system (EMS) controls which will help improve air quality throughout the campus. This project, which is well underway, will span three years and cost about $500,000. The District also has plans to replace the school's roof. Work will take place on nights and weekends. The estimated cost of roof replacement is $1.2 million. At the request of the principal, facilities is also removing old lockers and metal gates, and replacing exterior metal doors. Additionally, facilities is replacing lighting and installing benches for student use. The list of repairs also includes several general maintenance work orders which will be resolved by level of importance. Finally, the overall cleanliness of the senior campus is currently being improved. The school recently hired a new head custodian and the facilities staff is working with that custodial team to get them ready for the new school year."
"We should be comfortable and have fresh air, no smelly rust, it should be clean just like the other schools," Hill said.
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