State Health inspectors have confirmed that Rochelle School of the Arts in Lakeland has roaches in its cafeteria.

  • School inspected on March 29
  • Inspectors found roach in cafeteria, dead roach in food storage area
  • Outside pest control will treat cafeteria Saturday

Florida Department of Health inspectors visited the magnet K-8 school of more than 700 students on Mar. 29.

According to supervisor John Cook, the school didn’t pass its inspection, and there was evidence of a roach infestation. He said one of his inspectors found one roach in the cafeteria, and a dead roach in a food storage area.

It has many parents bringing their children a hot lunch, and some like Hernandez, spending the lunch hour with their children.
"I don’t want her to get sick,” said Hernandez. “You know, whatever they feed them, a pizza, a roach could be in that easily and you're never going to be able to notice."

Hernandez said her daughter can’t stop talking about it.
"They see roaches in the floor, on the walls, in the ceiling -- she feels disgusted about it. She doesn't like it,” said Hernandez.
The Polk County School District said it hadn't received any reports of roaches being on trays or in the kids’ food. It said it also wasn’t notified of any students getting sick.
The district reported that school administrators discovered the issue Mar. 27, and had the children eat in their classrooms while maintenance crews worked on exterminating the roaches that day and the next.  

The district’s spokesman said students returned to eating in the cafeteria after that, since the health department didn’t advise the school to disallow students to eat there.  
Parents want to know why they weren’t notified. Hernandez said she felt horrible about the situation.
"I mean, it’s our kids health," said Hernandez. "It's not only it's a roach walking over there -- it's their health. What could happen?”
Polk School officials said they planned to notify students’ parents Friday evening. They also hired an outside pest control company to come to the school Saturday to treat the cafeteria building for roaches.

Cafeteria workers were also seen Friday washing and dumping trash cans outside.
The health department said inspectors would return to the school April 13 to verify the roach infestation is resolved.