Several parents voiced their displeasure with the district’s handling of the situation, and a handful of parents asked whether immediate evacuation was a viable option. One parent went so far as to say she is contemplating pulling her daughter out of school until the situation is resolved. LaDuca asserted that evacuation is unnecessary, saying that the district is handling the situation properly and that he expects rapid improvement. He added that the colder weather should help eradicate the roaches.
LaDuca also said that the school’s kitchen is not likely to be infested, because the breed of cockroaches are Oriental roaches, which he said are outdoor insects.
The North Merrick District is planning to hold another public meeting to address the infestation on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at Old Mill Road School, and Feller said that more information would be available at that time.
Since Sept. 21, Feller said he has spoken with Department of Health Commissioner Lawrence Einstein to ensure that proper precautions have been taken. He also said that Dr. Jodi Kauffman, educational director of Cornell Cooperative Extension Pest Management, an agricultural program at Cornell University, came to the school to offer recommendations.
Parkway Pest Control Services, a New Hyde Park-based extermination company, was hired by the district to assist in eradicating the cockroaches.
Since school officials have become more aggressive in their approach, Feller said that fewer cockroaches have been discovered on glue boards. “We wish to emphasize that the number of sightings have been significantly reduced, which leads us to believe that our approach has been effective,” said Feller.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, certain proteins found in cockroach feces and saliva can trigger allergic reactions or asthma symptoms in humans, which Garcia said is one of the parents’ greatest concerns. "The bottom line is we all have very high school tax bills in this area, and to have our kids go to school with roaches is a little alarming to us,” said the PTA president.