‘Dehydrating herself’: Students avoid unsafe school bathrooms causing concern for parents

SPOKANE, Wash. — As school districts scramble to find solutions to growing safety concerns inside school bathrooms, some students have stopped using them altogether.

Local plumbers say they’re called out to high schools in the Mead School District multiple times a week to repair bathrooms. Parents are getting more frustrated as unsafe bathrooms are keeping their children from using them.

“She’s been telling me that she’s dehydrating herself during the day because she’s afraid to have to use the bathroom,” said Steve. He’s a concerned parent who has children in the Mead School District.

He says his daughter is avoiding the bathrooms at Mead High School all costs because she doesn’t know what she’ll see inside.

“She can smell marijuana,” he added. “She’s constantly walking into vaping issues. She’s afraid that, if she walks in there and if a school official does walk in there, she’s going to get blamed for what’s going on.”

Plumbers are trying to get a handle on the damage and construction.

“We’ve had bathrooms completely destroyed like the partitions ripped out of the walls and smashed in and left for us to clean up and try to put back together,” one plumber who’s been called in to fix damage shared. On top of plumbing problems, they also say it takes carpenters, electricians and custodians to put the bathrooms back together.

The District says it’s putting extra safety measures in to try and help the issue. They recently sent an email to middle and high school families outlining health and safety protocols. One measure they included is that “the district is testing a vape detector/air quality monitor in selected areas that aren’t monitored by video cameras such as bathrooms. these devices can monitor indoor air quality, detect vape particles and sense heightened decibel levels – without recording any audio – to alert administrators to a potential concern.”

The school superintendent says after testing extra safety measures, they could install the devices next year at the two high schools.

Steve just doesn’t think any children deserve to deal with these problems.

“I understand schools have limitations, but having a safe bathroom and a clean bathroom shouldn’t be one of those limitations,” he said.

For now — his daughter is limiting her bathroom use at school which also has her dad worried about the future.

“I don’t want her passing out in school because she’s afraid to drink water,” he concluded. “I don’t want her coming down with some kind of infection because she’s not using the bathroom and she needs to.”