Palmetto supporters defend school’s cleanliness

Miami Palmetto Senior High.
Miami Palmetto Senior High. MIAMI HERALD FILE, 2009

For the second time in a month, students at a Miami-Dade County high school have taken to the web with nasty photos purporting to expose unsanitary pictures at their school.

Anonymous, unconfirmed photos claiming to show bathrooms at Miami Palmetto Senior High covered in feces and used sanitary pads were sent to a community news outlet, the Miami New Times first reported.

The photos were released just days after the principal at another school, Miami Sunset Senior High in Kendall, retired in the wake of cleanliness complaints first brought to light by students on social media.

But unlike the Sunset case, supporters of the school have come out to defend their principal and to debunk the photos.

“They clean it up. They keep it up. They do the best they can, and this is a great school,” said PTSA president Anna Hochkammer.

Teacher Pam Shlachtman said she knows “for a fact” that a photo of a drinking fountain with a sign warning about yellow water is from a previous school year. Records provided to the Miami Herald show a test was done and the water was deemed safe.

Village of Palmetto Bay Police Commander Gregory Truitt sits on the school’s Educational Excellence School Advisory Council, a group that makes school-level decisions. He said he hasn’t witnessed any sanitation problems.

“The office always looks good when I go in there...The hallways are clean,” Truitt said.

The police commander said he speaks with parents often.

“Usually when there’s some issue going on, it gets brought to my attention,” he said. “Nobody has ever brought that up to me.”

In November, inspectors with the Florida Department of Health found mold and cockroaches in a closet. The department ordered the school to clean some air conditioning vents and restock paper towels in student bathrooms.

The school’s principal, Allison Harley, told the Miami Herald the issues were promptly taken care of.

“We took action immediately,” Harley said. “Nothing stays a problem here.”

Palmetto is one of only three high schools in Dade that managed to raise its school letter grade this year. It is an A school, according to the state. The school was also in the news lately for being the Alma Mater of Vivek Murthy, the recently-confirmed surgeon general of the United States.

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