Paso Robles High School parents angry over locked bathrooms

November 7, 2019

By KAREN VELIE

Amid allegations of drug dealing, vaping and sex in bathrooms, Paso Robles High School administrators are locking the bulk of student restrooms for much of the school day, an action that has angered many students and parents.

On social media, several teachers blame bad parenting; parents point the finger at mismanagement; and students plead for the right to use a bathroom when needed. Meanwhile, aside from a 20-minute morning break and a 40-minute lunch break, only two sets of restroom, aside from those affiliated with departments such as physical education, are open most of the day.

“The whole ‘you should be going on your breaks’ is such a cop out,” said Madi Ramirez, a recent graduate of Paso Robles High School. “We had some class periods that were three hours long on block days! It’s not my fault if I went during class, I needed to go. I finally ended up walking across the school, and I don’t recall running into any form of adult supervision, to find a bathroom. Once I went all the way up to Taco Bell and then I got in trouble for being late.”

Students and parents complain of long lines, having to skip lunch to use the restroom, and of leaving campus to find a bathroom.

“Why are bathrooms not available for students to use?” said Tess Serna on Facebook. “That is the big question. If they are vandalized, then clearly there wasn’t enough supervision. Lemme guess, ‘They didn’t have enough staff.’ Well they were tripping over themselves at the district office, so don’t give me that BS.”

Spanish teacher Jen Fuller said when students enter the workforce, they “can’t just get up and use the restroom whenever they want.” Fuller also described some students as vandals whose parents failed to raise them correctly.

“Kids should be in class not goofing off in the bathroom,” Fuller wrote on Facebook. “Students trash the bathrooms. How is this on the school?? That should be something taught at home. Don’t smear your feces all over the wall. Pee in a toilet, not on a pile of paper towels you threw on the floor.”

Parents and school district employees also argue over the meaning of several California codes regarding public school restroom facility requirements.

On the California Department of Education website, under “K-12 toilet requirement summary,” it says one toilet per 30 girls, and one toilet per 50 boys and one urinal per 100 boys.

During non-breaks, the two largest restrooms are kept open, Principal Anthony Overton said. As for the plumbing code listed on the state website, Overton said those are the requirements to open a school, and that the school is not required to keep all bathrooms open during class time.

“By having a limited number of restrooms, we can monitor and make sure students are using them appropriately,” Overton said. “Student have complained about unsafe bathrooms; vaping. With the new policy, we have had no vandalism and no false fire alarms. If it backs up, we open more restrooms.”

Diane Waters, the California Department of Education’s senior architect, said schools can close bathrooms temporarily for repairs, but they should not be keeping the bathrooms closed on a regular basis.

“They need to find ways to supervise bathrooms,” Waters said.

Parents can seek state oversight through The Williams Complaint Process. Implemented legislation, the process provides parents a way to correct unsafe or unhealthy facility conditions.

First, parents need to send a letter detailing their complaints to the school principal, who is required to respond within 45 days. If dissatisfied, parents can send an appeal to the state through jmireles@cde.ca.gov within 15 days of receiving the principal’s response.

At George H. Flamson Middle School in Paso Robles, Principal Tim Vincent, new this year, responded to a question about possible bathroom closures by telling his staff they were required by code to keep them open.

“The upstairs bathrooms will be open,” Vincent said in an August 14 email. “If we closed them, we would be out of compliance with state law. Here’s the link to the required student-to-restroom ratio. In order to meet the ratio, we’ll make sure we have the required number of bathrooms open, unless there is a closure due to a maintenance issue.”


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Francesca Bolognini

When poor life choices and inadequate socialization skills are exhibited, the answer that serves civilization is not to expect even less skills and simply treat the students like animals. Even animals should not be treated in that way. School should not be a training ground for becoming a cog in the machine, but for self discovery to bring the best a person has to offer to the greater whole and a more satisfying personal life.


When there is such a lack of self respect, it points to a much deeper problem. How about we address that? These are young people who will be entering society as adult individuals. It would be far cheaper to tackle the problem now than wait until we are paying to imprison them or dealing with the major health issues that they are setting up. Or the children they will produce that will perpetuate this disfunction, for that matter.


Let’s talk about how to address this as a mental and physical health matter. They need to want better for themselves and see a path to a better life. Some of these kids are coming from some fairly dire circumstances. The cycle needs to be interrupted. Not simply suppressed until they get out of school. These people are our future. I always try to imagine what created a behavior, rather than compartmentalize the experience as totally generated by the person before me. Personalities and behaviors do not develop in a vacuum.


Personal responsibility is critically important, but that is usually inspired by a sense of self worth and that sense is usually imbued in youth by family and society. Something vital is missing, that locking bathrooms does not begin to address.


Rambunctious

Typical liberal fix to a problem…aren’t you tired of being governed like a farm animal?…one size fits all fixes to every problem….a few bad kids breaking school rules in the bathrooms so you lock the doors?…why not expel the wrong doers instead?….


ed99

Why doesn’t the school just have the kids clean the bathrooms? It’ll teach them basic living skills as well as pressure their peers to take better care of public property.


RalphKane

PRHS appears to be run by a bunch of statist control freaks, just like all government schools in Commiefornia. Jen Fuller would be Exhibit A.


I don’t know what workforce she’s describing, but good companies don’t micromanage their employees over such petty BS, and employees with skills and options will vote with their feet rather than be abused.


UnReasoned

So, teachers blame parents and parents blame teachers. Maybe it’s time to empower students to maintain their own bathroom access? Isn’t there a way to involve these kids in a solution?


I remember what it was like to be 17 and having an adult supervised my bathroom visits would have been infuriating.


NorthCountyLady

I work in a large health facility and have always been one of those women who need to use the bathroom frequently. (Small bladder? over efficient urinary system? Usually, every hour on the hour. I have never been stopped, reprimanded, questioned, by and employer, or teacher about using the bathroom. The need to eliminate is one of the top 3 of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Water, food, temperature regulation, and elimination. “Spanish teacher Jen Fuller said when students enter the workforce, they “can’t just get up and use the restroom whenever they want.” Depending on the job, you may need to notify a supervisor or teacher but, “YES They CAN.” To Jen Fuller,, please do not deny your students their right to go to the bathroom. Girls can get a urinary tract infection if they hold their pee too long. And you could be held responsible. Let them go, Let them go, Let them go.


rharding

We just moved to Paso and couldn’t believe that the bathrooms were locked, the attitudes of teachers and the way administration at Paso High dealt with those issues. It was all ridiculous. I could go into further detail, but the bottom line is we found it to be a very unacceptable school with bad leadership. It is insane what they find acceptable behavior from its students and staff. We pulled our child and put her in another high school and things are much better. Paso High is a joke. Glad this is being talked about, it needs to be changed.


obispan

Paso is lost. All gang-banger from here on out, same as Santa Maria. Might as well replace the teachers with juvenile probation officers, then law enforcement officers, then correctional officers. You cannot build a picket fence against the tide.


oldtimer

That’s pretty damn racist, and not true, you sound like a Boomer. Paso has massive means of tax revenue; billionaires and vineyards, yet has total miss management of funding due to polotics. Maybe if we valued education over other expenditures, things would be different. I don’t blame teachers or students, Ever!, I hold administration and Gov accountable on this. What do you suggest we do? Unaccredited charter school bs at 12k a year costs?


Snoid

How do you get racism out of Obispan’s post? In your mind all gang bangers are Mexicans, blacks or Asians, everything but white correct? Who cares if Paso has millionaires and vineyards. Santa Maria is part of Santa Barbara..oh…ah…It has millionaires, farms, industrial more stores and more people and look what a hole its become.


obispan

You seem to hold everyone accountable except the “students”, and I use that word loosely and their “parents”, also used loosely.


obispan

Parents, who do nothing at home to raise their children responsibly and depend on the district to feed them, cry foul when the school tries to impose minimal discipline on their hellion wolf-children.