Kim Baldonado/Troy McLaurin
Responding to accusations that funds were being wasted on iPads for students while school buildings go without repairs, the LAUSD sent maintenance crews to inspect an LA high school on Thursday. Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. Feb. 6, 2014.
Rat droppings on desks, ants crawling in water fountains and holes in the floor: these are just some of the classroom conditions shown on a new Facebook page created by LAUSD teachers demanding the district repair schools before buying iPads.
The Facebook page, "Repairs Not iPads," was started by two Los Angeles Unified School District teachers who want other workers and taxpayers to see the conditions in schools at the same time the district continues to roll out its billion-dollar iPad initiative.
"Maybe if students are staring at iPads they will be able to forget about cockroaches," the caption of one photo reads.
Former Dorsey High School teacher Anna Iwason submitted a photo Wednesday night to the page, infuriated over the lack of repairs to improve basic school building conditions.
Iwason's photo shows her special education classroom, where she taught last year, filled with an overflowing garbage can and trash on the floor.
"We all live it," she said. "The fact of the matter is, I had students with open tracheas and physical needs and the place was unsanitary. And that was the same year that we also ran out of toilet paper."
A photo of an out-of-service water fountain was taken at Franklin High School in Highland Park, but the other photos do not specify from which school they were taken.
"It should shine a light on the fact that they are ready to spend (a billion) dollars on iPads while we are asking students to try to learn and teachers to try to teach in conditions that are substandard, subhuman in a lot of ways."
The district sent maintenance crews to Franklin High School Thursday to walk through every classroom.
"They just came and fixed the whole in my ceiling, that was really nice, but to have water fountains that work -- and the toilet is still broken," teacher Monica Whalen said.
David Tokofsky, a former LAUSD board member, told NBC4 the teachers are clearly demanding their need for the district to take care of the basics of school maintenance before thinking about giving students access to technology such as iPads.
The page is described as "a place for teachers and the community to document neglected school repairs while construction bond (money) is diverted to purchase iPads." The name of the page administrator are not publicly listed.
District officials admit that budget cuts have forced them to cut their maintenance staff in half during the past six years, but they insist it is not a case of either make repairs or purchase iPads.
"These aren't competing demands," said Robert Loughton, deputy director of maintenance operations with LAUSD. "We have a fully funded technology plan and fully funded repair plan."
Teachers can submit requests for repairs either on the district's website, on a mobile app or by calling a hotline at 213-745-1600. If a repair is considered an emergency, a crew is sent out in 30 minutes, the district said. An urgent call is responded to in 48 hours, and repairs considered routine can take between 30 and 90 days.
But those are figures that Whalen disputes. She said the heating and air conditioning system has never worked properly in the 12 years since she's been at Franklin High.
"Right now in some classrooms it's 65 degrees and the kids are freezing," she said. "We have one teacher who brings blankets and extra sweaters because the kids are so cold."
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy told NBC4 he would look at the page, but did not respond for comment about the photos by presstime.
In September 2013, the district dealt with a massive glitch that allowed dozens of students to hack into school-issued iPads and use them for non-educational purposes off campus.