Detroit schools riddled with rodents, mold, broken toilets, fire hazards, no heat

Flooding from a broken main outside of Cass Tech High School. Photo by Steve Neavling.
Flooding from a broken main outside of Cass Tech High School. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

Detroit’s public schools are riddled with rodents, insects, mold, leaking roofs, fire hazards, and broken toilets, elevators and heaters.

The sobering discovery comes after Mayor Mike Duggan began requiring inspections of all 97 schools in the Detroit Public Schools system.

The initial inspections of 11 schools found numerous health hazards in classrooms, restrooms, gymnasiums, hallways and cafeterias. Six of the 11 schools had insects and rodents.

At Cody schools, inspectors found 27 violations, including broken sinks, mold, plumbing problems in restrooms, rodents, lack of heat, a roof open to the elements and broken electrical outlets.

The other schools that were inspected are Detroit International Academy, Benjamin Carson High School, A.L. Holmes Elementary-Middle School, Blackwell Institute, Dossin Elementary-Middle School, J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy, Greenfield Union Elementary-Middle School, Osborn schools and Ronald Brown Academy. All of them had health hazards, many of them serious.

At Osborn schools, inspectors found a leaking roof in the kitchen of the cafeteria, a defective fire pull station, leaking roof and broken urinals, elevator and windows.

“We are giving school officials a reasonable timeline to correct the deficiencies, and we hope they will,” Duggan said. “If they don’t, we are going to take prompt legal action to enforce compliance.”

Students, parents and teachers have long complained about deplorable conditions that are impacting education. The conditions prompted teacher and student walk-outs that continues to shut down schools.

Duggan said he’s not messing around.

“I don’t want there to be any confusion. A claim of a shortage of funds is not a defense to violations of building or health codes for any building owner,” Duggan said. “We’re not going to allow our children, DPS employees, or the public to continue to be subjected to substandard conditions.”

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.