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Cockroach Infestations on County School Busses Raise Health and Safety Concerns

UPDATE: 4/6/2016, 12:36 P.M. – The woman who initially asked to remain anonymous has now agreed to reveal her identity. Nicole Baker is the subject of our original report. 

Baker says “I decided to come out because I feel like I’m on the same side as the school board, transportation, teachers, parents, students and bus drivers. I want it fixed just like they do. I don’t believe that this is an intentional problem on their behalf I think that it’s something that got out of control and needs to be fixed and I think anybody on the planet would agree.” 

HERNANDO – The rigmarole of preparing children for school each day often consists of finding a matching pair of socks, flattening a cowlick and rushing them off to the bus stop – granola bar in hand. But for some local children, boarding the bus each day has turned into a fight over a place to sit, and it’s not with other students.

Last week, RNRF began receiving tips from parents who say German cockroaches have taken over their children’s school busses. Some say their children have seen the disease ridden insects walking on the backs of fellow student, while traveling back and forth to school.

The mother of two Explorer K8 students, who wished not to be identified, agreed to meet with RNRF today to discuss the problem. We’ll refer to her as “Julie” throughout the article, as Julie is working towards a securing a teaching position with the District, and fears she’ll be “blackballed” if she reveals her true identity.

Julie says that her son and daughter brought the problem to her attention last Thursday after she picked them up from the bus stop.

Julie contacted the Hernando County School Board on Friday but says she did not receive a response to her complaints.

On Monday, Julie called the Transportation Department and spoke with a receptionist who told her that she would receive a call back from their call center, and then proceeded to give her a case number. Not surprisingly, says Julie, she has not received a call back from their “Call Center.”

Julie took her complaint to social media, where numerous parents and even some school bus drivers responded – proving that the issue is systemic and not an isolated incident.

In a private message, one bus driver told Julie that when she turns on the interior bus lights in the morning, she sees hundreds of roaches scatter all over the bus. On Monday, the same bus driver drove a different bus, while her usual bus was supposedly being treated for pests. When she inspected an area under one of the bench seats last night, she discovered dozens of live roaches hiding within the cracks. (See photo below)

Concerned that bus drivers may speak to the media about the problem, the Transportation Department held a meeting on Monday, where employees were told “if you speak to anyone about this issue (referring to the cockroach infestation) you will lose your job.”

Despite that threat, a Transportation employee told Julie that the busses were treated last Friday, Monday, and will be treated again this coming Thursday. But even after the last two treatments, Julie says the busses are still full of roaches and none have been found dead.

German cockroaches are known for their ability to transmit a number of pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella spp. and Typhus. Studies even show that it leads to the development of asthma in some children.

Julie is concerned that a driver could get distracted while driving; which could lead to an accident and possible injury or death. Some bus drivers say it’s not unusual to have roaches crawl across their steering wheel, the windshield, or even up their legs.

Yesterday, a driver says she had 5 children screaming about the roaches while they were en route to bus stops. All the bus driver could do was scream back at the children – telling them to “Step on the roaches,” as she continued driving.

We contacted the HCSB and asked the following questions: How often are busses and schools treated for insects? Have measures been taken to resolve the problem? And will the District take immediate steps to resolve the issue? In an email, HCSB Public Information Officer, Karen Jordan said “The transportation department is taking measures to eradicate any presence of bugs. They have treated over 80 buses at this time and will be completing the rest within several days.” Jordan went on to explain that busses are treated twice a year unless a driver reports a problem.

We asked Jordan what kinds of chemicals are used by the District; she replied “The pesticides are plant and/or botanical based. Some parents voiced concerns over the use of “Green Pesticides,” stating that they are ineffective and a waste of money.

According to a 2015 HCSB report, Bingham Professional Pest Management was awarded a three-year contract to handle the District’s pest control. We attempted to contact a representative of Bingham, but a receptionist told us that the owners were out of town.

That same report states that the lowest bidder was chosen to handle pest control.

Because German cockroaches are so difficult to exterminate, parents are concerned that if one cockroach crawls into their child’s book bag, they’ll be paying hundreds of dollars to rid the nasty creatures from their own homes.

Like other parents, Julie wants the District to publicly acknowledge the problem and improve their communication efforts with concerned residents.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ™2013 – 2016 Real News Real Fast, Inc.

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  • German roaches are highly known to come from grocery stores of all kinds. Just takes one female. In your 12 pack of soda hiding in a box..from the plastic bags boxes. They are nasty little creatures that take over like crazy. Dirty buses schools homes clean buses and homes nursing homes restaurants grocery stores. They climb in your purse kids back pack. Come in from the 12 pack of soda. I’ve seen them I’ve had them. I learned a lot about them. They are not your normal palmetto bug or even spider. Anyone can get them. One female can lay up to like 400 babies and they multiple fast. Your invested right before your eyes. The cleanest stores have them. I’ve seen them at Publix. There is only certain shit that will kill them. Which it basically sterlizes the males but the but the females can lay some a day later. You have to keep treating for a long time. It’s not a one time thing. This is for houses and bug bombs do not work for these guys. I got them from my landlord bringing in a new/used refrigerator. Guess where they lived in the back of the fridge. They live behind stoves. It’s no one’s fault except for transportation for not caring for it when they saw they had an issues. It could have crawled on the bus. Thank goodness my twin sister works for a pest control company family owned and helped me
    Bc nothing I was doing worked. For the buses probably only choice they could do is tent them. But no need to point fingers at kids for eating. Or at bus drivers for driving. If they told their higher up and they did nothing well guess what you got over thousands of bugs on ur bus. They eat paper boxes they don’t need much. But you definitely don’t want them in your house. If you check your kids go out by the street and check them. Don’t chance doing it outside your door. It’s nature and transportation is held responsible for this. Just like the stores the semi trucks carrying the food schools personal homes. If you have them it’s up to you to get rid of them or move out bc the reproduce quickly. My house is far from nasty. I had them yrs ago when I lived in Pinellas. They gave me the creeps. I don’t miss them and I’m super cautious after going to any store.

    Tuesday, 19 April 2016, 3:49 am
  • There are plenty of non toxic treatments that can be applied where contact wouldn’t be an issue. Fairly inexpensive and can be administered by anybody including drivers, mechanic or good old useless Mr Spencer! This is Florida. Let’s get real! Roaches are everywhere! If you think they’re not, you’re naive! I am from up north and was horrified when I moved here thinking the whole state was filthy! No, it just has the perfect climate for them!

    Friday, 8 April 2016, 11:13 am
  • Ben Martin…you need to go away

    Thursday, 7 April 2016, 1:01 pm
  • Thank you ungowa.

    Thursday, 7 April 2016, 2:13 am
  • Who does Bingham know???must be a FRIEND of some cockroach county COMMISSIONER…he sprayed colored water…leading us too believe he’s doing his job…smh..

    Thursday, 7 April 2016, 12:37 am
  • BUGS! BUGS!….Meanwhile, common core is being taught in the schools because of spineless officials bending to extortion from Washington DC, and the lunches are being dictated by an unelected Michelle Obama.
    It should be obvious that this county has a bunch of people on the payroll just looking for a check. And whomever threatened the jobs of those who might speak out, that person has to go away.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 7:57 pm
  • One of the biggest problems we have at transportation is they have been dumping HUMAN WASTE across the street from the compound. Which is drawling a lot of bugs to the area. Need to get to the real problem folks!

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 7:26 pm
  • They need to call Tony Montana. He’ll bury those cockroaches.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 7:24 pm
  • Nicole Baker must have gotten the job, now she’s standing with them First anonymous , now public????? Confused in Spring Hill., idk. kinda funny, 5 minutes of fame.,just sayin. Call Michelle she’ll get the problem fixed, after all she fixed the lunches that kids wouldn’t eat and threw away. Problem solved.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 7:19 pm
  • Does Hernando county hire illiterate people to drive the busses? Come on use SOME punctuation at the very least.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 7:10 pm
  • I agree with Woody, voters wake up. It is time to get these morons that run things out and replace them with people who will fix the issues. School Board members are to be voted on this year too. Lets take action in November!

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 7:05 pm
  • ABC news was there today, just happened to be driving by.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 5:33 pm
  • Willy, roaches on school busses is nothing new, nor is kids eating on school busses. What is new is how everything gets blown way out of proportion due to social media, I hope you don’t think that the restaurants that these same kids eat at don’t have a few roaches of their own crawling around, because I guarantee you that most do.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 5:01 pm
  • It was a problem in the 80’s and 90’s when I rode HCSB busses, we were constantly smashing roaches. We also ate and drank on the bus almost all the time. The problem is that they aren’t treating the problem effectively. You’ll reduce the amount of roaches by enforcing the no eating drinking policy, but as it is it’s a miracle the bus driver alone has the wherewithal to drive a commercial vehicle loaded with 40-60 screaming hooligans. So they probably could care less about food and drink. So to answer, yes curbing the food and drink “WILL” help, but won’t solve the issue, they need to treat the busses the right way.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 4:17 pm
  • Willie, YES IT IS A HUGE PROBLEM. Because when they eat the crumbs falls on the floor, or they tuck a half eaten candy bar, half eaten sandwich, cereal in between the seats. Spilled soda, juice and the famous big problem gum stuck underneath the seats or the floor. This is everyday! And it’s not a problem WILLIE. It plays a huge problem to why we have ROACHES. Get real.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 3:46 pm
  • You think food on buses is a new problem? It would be a mass countrywide problem. Not so simple,huh?

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 3:08 pm
  • Sad to say, but there’s always the possibility that a child, or children could be bringing them on the buses. The roaches could be a problem at home, and they make their way into the backpacks, or by other means, and end up infesting the bus, or the classroom… or crawl its way onto another child’s belongings, resulting in a possible infestation in their own home. Although I’m sure there is eating and drinking happening on the bus, and that absolutely will not help the situation, it is unfair to say THAT is the cause of the problem. German Roaches can be very difficult to treat for.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 2:22 pm
  • Willie, if food being left on the buses, isn’t the problem, what is? The roaches have to eat something..

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 1:51 pm
  • Do you really thing kids eating on the buses is the problem? Rules will solve the problem? Just plain stupid. Just saying.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 12:47 pm
  • Amen “Justsaying” a lot of truth spoken there.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 11:59 am
  • It’s correct every year every student gets a registration card to be filled out BY THE PARENTS and given back to the school bus driver. On the bottom of that card is the half that the parents are not reading, the majority of the cards are given back to the driver with the bottom still attached, which leaves me to believe THE PARENTS ARE NOT READING the portion that says, TEAR AND READ. THE RULES ARE ON THAT BOTTOM PIECE. One of course RULE from HERNANDO COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD is no EATING or DRINKING ON THE BUS, that is one of the few rules that are on those registration cards. It’s quick and easy to blame the bus drivers, school board, administrators. But like everything else our children teaching comes from home first. IF EVERY PARENT ADHERE THE RULE AND TEACHS OUR FUTURE ENDEAVORS a lot of these situation that are occurring on the school buses would become less of a problem. Our children learns from home first not from school or the buses. Children do not start school till after the age of 4. In the mean time Parents has taught them how to walk how to say some words, how to count, how to resite the A,B,C’s. When to say please and thank you. So why can’t this be continue and teach them the rules and regulations where ever they have to be.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 11:07 am
  • Lmao DOC.. I knew someone would bring up Nicholson. It could be an article about a car accident and someone will name drop him.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 10:04 am
  • My son rides the bus to Explorer and is probably one of the first ones on the bus and the last ones off the bus because he is really zoned for Westside but because he is in a wheelchair and disabled and Explorer is such a wonderful school (speaking for the ESE room and the teachers anyway) i wanted him there. Anyway hes on the bus probably the longest of any kids and i have NEVER EVER seen a roach anywhere near him or on his bus. His bus driver and bus aid are absoulutely amazing and i could never see them allowing roaches to crawl on kids and do nothing about it. Everytime i have ever called transportation department they have always answered or called me back. My sons been riding the same bus for years and to this day i have not one complaint. They have done nothing but treat my son and i with care,respect and have gone beyond that.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 9:52 am
  • Why don’t you people quit your whining and do something besides bitch about everything. If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 7:11 am
  • Try looking in book bags… The kids bring them on buses and to schools. The kids eat on the buses when they should not. If the driver sweeps daily the bus has the trash off but the bugs will get on there anyways. Bug bombs and a good spray…. It has to be something for German Roaches. But it will continue due to kids bringing them on and bugs will get on bus otherways.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 5:58 am
  • Some kids have to walk to school everyday crossing dangerous intersections, because transportation won’t bus them, and we’re worried about the bugs.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 5:52 am
  • Having lived all over this country for over 30 years, I have never seen a more dysfunctional, self serving and corrupt local government as Hernando county. Commissioner Nicholson running around with a known prostitute (money for sex) and helping her do her drug deals. The other commissioners have there own issues. The school board and its senior administrators are out of touch with the real world. The only person who I think has any credibility is the sheriff and public opinion court is still out on this one. Following the arrest of our County Court Clerks daughter, this guys background is very suspicious, does anyone perform true back ground checks for our leaders?

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 5:10 am
  • Yes many kids disrespect the rules of the bus compound and bring food and drink on the bus, smash it into the books, crannies and crevices. If the buses were never cleaned think how many roaches you would definitely have at home then… come on people use your head.

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 1:04 am
  • First of all, what’s is with all the cloak and dagger crap? It would be a simple task to connect “Julie” up with the person that filed the reports,”waiting for a return call”. So What? This is an issue that needs to be resolved! So let’s do it by normal County policies and remedies for solving issues. First, you have to start a focus group to study the problem. Hire as many experts as necessary to determine exactly the genus of the offending insects, which would require another group formation to see if anything studied would fall under any Federal assistance departments that might provide a Federal Grant to see if this is a systemic localized problem or would encompass certain areas by city, county ,state, national region or is it a national problem that will require the formation of a national task force which would require a Washington over-site committee to regulate funding. Of course, many studies would have to be voted on and approved to include the EPA, for determining the long term effects of the type of chemical remediation involved, the FDA, to determine if the EPA follows all the Federal guidelines where here might be a chance contact with any organic food products, the Center for Disease Control to insure that the infestation isn’t the result of some type of cross contamination from some other insect from another part of the world being brought in by migrants or possibly by the new influx of immigrants, which will require Homeland Security to make sure this is not the first wave of an ISIS plot to overthrow our Government by some sort of a sophisticated DNA altering gene that is being carried by these “German” insurgents. Or Better Yet, someone, from the Hernando County School Board with the help of the Hernando County Commissioners appropriate a few hundred dollars to purchase a pallet of “Bug Bombs” and have the drivers set off a couple when they park the buses for the weekend or the next school break? LADIES & GENTLEMEN OF OUR FINE COUNTY GOVERNMENT, THE BALLS IN YOUR COURT. JUST FIX THE FRIGGIN’ PROBLEM!

    Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 1:03 am
  • Kids have always had food and drinks on school buses for many decades. For roaches now to be a problem means these buses are never cleaned. You cut funding to schools this is one of the first things to cut from the budget. Don’t blame other families like you are perfect!

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 11:23 pm
  • The roaches could have come from you name it, anywhere. All you need is two to tango and within weeks you have many, many more and within months you could gave millions if you have an active colony.
    OK, 3 year contract with pest elimination company. National or local contractor (yes it matters)? Who from the county or school district manages contract? Is the contact for specific services as defined or for services on a as needed basis? Recalls or specials included or add on cost to the taxpayers?
    Anyway, county and pest elimination company should be on the carpet instead of pretending the situation does not exist. Unfortunately that seems to be the MO in this county and from the school district lapdog, Ms. Jordon.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 11:21 pm
  • Ok so I tell my kids no eating on bus no drinking on bus warned them we would get bugs also asked them please if you eat put you garbage in trash can nope your children rather throw the food and garbage on the floor for me to sweep up three times a day I hate to see your cars and homes if this is how you taught your children to be but my bus thank god has no roaches couple of spiders maybe the point is bugs don’t just decide to use public transportation they get lord in by food and candy tell you teachers to stop sending the kids home with candy and cup cakes the kids get wired up and jump all over the teachers should drive the kids for a week and so should parents then you will see what your kids are truly like. Raise em right problem solved.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 11:10 pm
  • Guess that 1/2 cent tax increase just wasn’t enough, They need more money!! Incompetent people all over this county infrastructure. We need to clean house.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 10:09 pm
  • Roaches gotta eat to! Just like the ticks, Lice and chicken pox these kids bring from home!
    oh yea, and Hepatitis, Measles, Mumps and STD’s

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 10:08 pm
  • Form a group, right here from the concerned parents on this article, walk to the doors of the bus compound and demand answers, and demand a fix. Calls? What calls? They have to do something when you show up, from my experience in transportation industry.. Twice a year in Florida is nowhere near enough.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 9:28 pm
  • Fumigate the buses a few at a time in the shop. Confirm the kills. It’ll solve the problem in the shop as well. Fumigate once a quarter, done. Lol home school your kids because of roaches on the bus? That’s a new one. Like I said earlier, a little less drama and a lot more action. They eat the food that the kids bring/leave on the bus, that’s what allows them to thrive. Pretty simple solutions here. Being on this page bashing everyone possible and looking for people to point fingers at won’t fix things.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 9:22 pm
  • Lol Tubbs!

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 8:37 pm
  • It was mentioned this morning at EK-8 that kids are NOT to EAT or DRINK on the school bus!!! I wonder how long this kids will follow this rule?? I give it until Friday!!!!! SMH

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 8:34 pm
  • The German roaches in this situation are being introduced to the school busses by children bringing them on board, either in book bags, lunch boxes, or even articles of clothing. German roaches will not continue to thrive on the bus without food being brought on board to support them. They cannot survive on wood and metal, or motor oil. I think some of the parents, if not most, and certainly some of the students know exactly who is contributing to the roach population. But it’s always someone else’s fault. Can you just imagine the liability that the school board just dove off in by admitting that the busses were treated with some type of POISON, and then some will complain about the so called green products not working, and a huge waste of taxpayers money. Keep your kids off the bus and home school them, do everyone a favor. And as far as (Julie) goes why on earth would she want to be part of such a terrible school system. It’s best to move to a different county, or better yet state.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 8:21 pm
  • “Last week, RNRF began receiving tips from parents who say German cockroaches have taken over their children’s school busses”
    cockroaches have taken over? I hear they were even driving the bus too. that one big cockroach!

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 7:55 pm
  • One theory is that the maintenance garage is the main breeding ground. Seems that roach free buses go in for service and leave with infestations.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 7:49 pm
  • Yes, it ridiculous, my son attends one of the High Schools here in Hernando and he tells me he sees them running in and out of students bags and clothing and once that I know of three traveled with him home. After that on two other occasions I had to empty the content of his bag before he enters the house just to make sure no nasty roaches come in with him. Incredible that I have to pat down my son for roaches before he comes home. SMH.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 7:21 pm
    • My daughter has told me she sees roaches at her school very often. It is also local High School

      Friday, 8 April 2016, 2:31 pm
  • Roaches on the school busses are nothing new! They infested the busses in the 80’s and 90’s as well. Stop being so dramatic, it has nothing to do with our commissioners, school board members or anything else. It’s the fact we live in Florida, the busses sit in an empty lot, and they don’t spray the busses with pest control chemicals that often because our children ride in them. Not to mention most of the floors of the busses are made of wood, covered with rubber, we live in Florida, the wood gets wet and provides a more than ample home for the roaches. They need to do a better job of using pest control while the kids are on break. That’s all they need to do.. This “isn’t a government breakdown caused by that nameless commissioner who dated a crack head.”

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 7:20 pm
    • Educate yourself on German roaches. They are from filth.

      Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 8:36 pm
      • YUP! They are not talking about Palmetto Bugs!

        Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 10:13 am
  • My son had two bugs come out of his backpack when I was walking him home from the bus stop. This is disgusting and I’ve been driving my child to school since the kids health and well being are the very last thing on the school boards mind. Hernando County schools, transportation and the admins suck. Transportation NEVER returns parents calls. I called three times and have yet to get a call back. Matter of fact I may just decide to pull my son and homeschool him. My childs health and well being are very important to me, as I’m sure it is to a lot of parents. They get sick and get in trouble for missing too many days. They contribute to the sicknesses and excessive expenses trying to get rid of the bugs once they get into the students home. If I see any in my home (I’ve never had any), I’m taking this to someone who will get an answer. But then again, we’re talking about Hernando County, the county who is not accountable for anything.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 7:06 pm
  • This is just another instance to add to a long line of this crap from this school board I’m telling you board members now be prepared because not one of you will be getting my vote come election time and this superintendent, lady you are a joke and should’ve been dismissed the minute you tried to give yourself another raise! Our schools are in a state of disrepair we have less busses than ever in 27 years I’ve lived here! More program cuts galore on our children! And you get a raise? BS you should be drawn and quartered not given a raise!

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 6:57 pm
  • Then roaches are coming from your dirty book bags from dirty parents homes.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 6:53 pm
    • No, they are coming home in book bags. We have never had roaches and I saw them coming out of the book bag when we were walking home from the bus stop.

      Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 8:34 pm
  • ***********************************************************************************************************************************************************It has been a rule on the bus that there is no food or drink for the last 15 years that I have been working there. Maybe if parents were to actually read what they signed in the beginning of the year when they are given the bus passes they would know what the rules of the bus are. It is nowhere near as bad as you think. I have driven buses from other counties when mine has broken down on a field trip that I got to drive back to this county where the roaches were horrible and it was it least knee-deep in dirt grime and trash; the buses at Hernando County are probably the cleanest ones because they do make sure we keep up on it and they are adamant about it at each inspection.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 6:36 pm
  • Nasty, have the school board ride the buses a few days and they might do something SERIOUS about it. Poor children!!

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 6:34 pm
  • good article bringing things out in to the open. I asked my daughter after reading this article and she said they were told not to bring food on the bus anymore bc theres a bug problem and that theres no reason to talk about it anymore after they were told. makes me curious now.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 6:23 pm
  • These things happen and the admin, if addressing the problem properly, might get some support if they weren’t such ….s.
    We should fire a few of them and use their wasted salaries on bus improvements.
    Their insistence on keeping things quit has endangered the lives of our children. That would be illegal in most any other county.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 6:04 pm
  • There is no reason for this,and the person who told the driver if anyone says anything will get fired should be fired,Tom can you do some follow up on this? All any kid has to do is step on one and they can bring these pest home on there shoes.what is the administration thinking ,take some of the superintendant salary and fumagate all the buses till there is no more problem.

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 5:55 pm
  • Who the hell is in charge of our school system. Get rid of county commissioners, all school administrators. At least with hiring a bunch of idiots to replace the current, we would b ahead of the game… VOTERS wake up

    Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 5:52 pm

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