Rats, Roaches Force Student Walk-Out at New York High School

Chanting slogans and carrying posters, students fed up with alleged unsanitary conditions at their Rockland County, N.Y. high school walked out of classes Monday to protest what they say is an infestation of cockroaches and rats.

Around 12 p.m. Monday, students at Clarkstown North High School in New City, N.Y., marched out of school, convening on the school's athletic field where they brandished signs reading "Rams not roaches."

The Superintendent for the district of Clarkstown North High School, Meg Celler Cogan, said the walkout wasn't related to any disease or MRSA threats. According to the high school's website, there has not been an "identified case" of MRSA in the school's district.

Chatter about students' plans to leave the premises to protest the unhealthy conditions at the school had reached the faculty several days before the walk-out.

"Several assemblies were held to address this issue and inform students of the consequences if they took action," Cogan said. Students were informed that they would receive a zero for an "unexcused absence" if they left school, she added.

The students reportedly returned to their classes Monday before the end of the school day.

According to Cogan, the district has been trying to address the cockroach problem, which she said is a separate issue from the rat infestation issue.

"We exterminate every week," Cogan said. "Most school's do it every month."

But some roaches still survive, she admitted.

The rat infestation allegedly occurred after a building was demolished a month ago.

"Three rats entered the building—two died, but we had difficulty finding the other one," she said. "We eventually found it decomposing in the ceiling tiles."

The Clarkstown North High School district plans to continue its weekly extermination to counter future infestation problems, Cogan said.