Flatbush Parents are Itching for Answers About a Bed Bug Infestation in Their Children's School

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Flatbush public school's latest rash of bedbugs is the 31st time the school has dealt with the pesky insects in a year, the Daily News has learned.

Officials at Public School 361 sent a letter home to parents on Oct. 31, telling them that once again, the unwanted crawlers had been found in a classroom - the 31st incident since last October.

"It's terrible," said Darlene Rice, 45, whose son Jared is in the first grade at the Newkirk Ave. school. "We've been hearing about it for over a year. They should be exterminating the whole building."

The letter warned parents that bites from the blood-sucking bugs are "initially painless" but could become swollen and itch.

"Even though it is unlikely for bedbugs to spread in schools, the Department of Education will conduct an inspection and, if indicated, treatment of the area where the bug was found," read the note addressed to parents.

Rice said she just dealt with a rash of bedbugs at her apartment across the street from the school and was nervous about another unwelcome visit.

"I'm scared. I just spent so much money washing my clothes," said Rice.

The city's anti-bedbug policy instructs school officials to send the bugs to a lab in Long Island City for testing. If the lab results are positive for bedbugs, then the city is supposed to dispatch exterminators to treat the trouble spots.

"The school has been inspected eight times and there have never been signs of infestation," said city Education Department spokeswoman Marge Feinberg. "Every time we find a single bedbug, we are required to report it. Schools are not hospitable environments for bedbugs and are brought in from the outside, usually in a bag or on clothing."

Parents said they were not taking any chances.

"I'm getting my apartment exterminated - I am not playing," said Shavonne Wingate, 24, whose daughter, Michelle, is in the first grade.

Adriane Hobbs, 41 whose son Jalen Perez is in the first grade, said she can't stand roaches - let alone bedbugs.

"I think it's nasty - I don't like bugs," Hobbs said.

"If there's one, then they're all over the building," said Hobbs.

Paris World, 31, from Crown Heights, said she makes her first grade daughter Jadaya take her clothes off at the front door before she walks into their apartment.

"Bedbugs are not roaches," said World. "If you see one you know there's a whole bunch somewhere else."