• Report: Some CMS schools score low on building health inspections

    By: Angela Hong

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Some Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are in dire need of upgrades and better maintenance, reports found.

    Channel 9 dug through building health inspection reports and found that several public schools scored “C” on their inspections, some for years in a row.

    The Mecklenburg County Health Department conducts the inspections once a year. Scores from 70 to 79.5 are considered a “C.”

    Mike Murdock’s daughter goes to Olympic High School, which received 70 points on its most recent inspection. The score is the worst among CMS schools.

    He said there are a lot of good things going on at the school and the learning that happens within the school's walls is what's most important.

    However, he recognized that the condition of the facilities is important too.

    “It is a distraction from the overall goal when you are paying attention to things that are not related to the teacher engaging with the students,” he said.

    Each school is inspected once a year to make sure it’s up to health and safety standards.


    REPORTS:


    During Olympic High School's most recent inspection in September, county health inspectors found dirty nozzles and mouth guards on water fountains, plus soiled walls and ceilings.

    The inspector also noted that the tiles need to be replaced, writing, "Do not want ceiling tiles to fall and hit student or teacher in the head."

    The report found “cockroaches present in the auditorium near the piano and stage” and “large water bugs in the weight room and dead water bugs throughout in other areas of the school.”

    Murdock believed that while those things are of concern, the solution is easy.

    “I think that given the effort, most of those things are easily fixed,” he said.

    Mecklenburg County Health Inspector Stephen Graham said CMS schools generally score well on the inspections.

    “Typically they are proactive about getting things fixed,” Graham said.

    CMS has more than 160 school buildings, and their average score is around 91.

    However, some schools have repeated low scores, and any score below 70 means that the superintendent must be notified.

    For example, West Charlotte High School scored a 70 this year and a 72 the year before.

    The school lost points for dirty toilets, among other things.

    Military and Global Leadership Academy, a CMS magnet school, scored a 77 on its most recent inspection.

    The school was cited for multiple repeat violations like dusty vents and dirty water fountains.

    South Mecklenburg High School scored a 77.5. Inspectors found a “ceiling in disrepair -- peeling with black mold growth in the dressing rooms.”

    Channel 9 learned that it’s solely up to the schools to make the improvements, and no one outside of CMS is required to follow up on the inspections.

    “The health department does not issue a permit or license to schools,” Graham said. “We're just required to conduct the inspection.”

    Channel 9 asked CMS who is accountable for the low scores and making sure improvements are made.

    The district denied our multiple requests for an on-camera interview but answered questions through email.

    Channel 9:

    “Once a school receives a grade, what steps are taken after the health inspection to correct the issues that are brought up?”

    CMS:

    “CMS is committed to maintaining a safe environment for teaching and learning for students and staff at all facilities. The district reviews all information from the health inspector and works to improve areas cited.”

    Channel 9:

    “The Department of Health said that once a school receives a grade, they don’t have an obligation to follow up with the school. Who within CMS is then accountable to make sure that the school receives a better grade next year?

    CMS:

    “The district's building services department works to improve, replace and repair areas of deficiency.”

    The district also explained that once they get the health inspector’s report, their building services department creates a work order based on the health inspector's report.

    The district said urgent problems are addressed within a 48-hour window and often times include health-related issues.

    They also said the building services department has been looking into new methods of tracking trends that come up in the reports.

    When we asked specifically what happens when a school get a “C” grade in consecutive years and what the repercussions are, Channel 9 didn’t get a response from the district.

    CMS has more than $92 million dollars allotted for custodian salaries, maintenance and supplies.

    However, a CMS spokesperson wrote: “Budget constraints are always a challenge. Resources from both the county and state level are always limited.”

    Graham said the age of the facilities play a big factor in the scoring because of wear and tear.

    Thanks to a bond package, Olympic High School is going through a renovation.

    Parents like Mike Murdock are hopeful and said they have seen some improvements already.

    “They are making progress bit-by-bit,” he said.

    When Channel 9 asked the district what improvements are being made at other schools that received “C” grades, the district did not respond.

    A majority of the schools that got a “C” were in school board member Thelma Byers-Bailey district, District 2.

    She told us she did not know about the health inspection scores until we told her.

    She plans to look through the reports and bring up the issue at a school board session.

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