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Canutillo ISD faces shortage of janitors, some parents complain of filthy classrooms

CANUTILLO, Texas-- Some parents are raising concerns over one elementary school's cleanliness in the Canutillo Independent School District. One parent told ABC-7 their child had to be moved to another facility after a bird and its droppings were found in a classroom at Jose Damian Elementary School.

"My child couldn’t attend class today due a bird in the classroom. The bird was in the class over the weekend and made several droppings. It was so bad the students were not allowed to have their studies in that class due to no custodians," a parent, who chose to remain anonymous, told ABC-7.

The school district admits there was a bird found in the classroom, the second in eight days. However, officials told ABC-7 they did have a custodian there to clean up the mess.

"A bird drilled a hole with it's beak in one of the ceiling tiles, created a mess - there were some droppings and again at the same time, the custodian that was present that morning cleaned the area. The teacher also volunteered to do some cleanup, and all of this happened before the teacher was in the classroom," said Bruno Vasquez, executive director of facilities and transportation for Canutillo ISD.

Vasquez told ABC-7 that the birds had been getting in through a hole drilled in an outdoor wall facing the playground. A deep clean was done before the children were allowed back in the classroom, he explained, and teachers made the decision to teach the children at a computer lab that day. Still, that parent who complained to ABC-7 maintains the school is not up to the standards they would expect.

"The classrooms are so dirty, the teachers are being forced to take their own cleaning supplies and clean their rooms. I know it sounds over the top, but it is happening," the parent said.

Vasquez responded by saying the district is facing a critical shortage of custodians brought on by the pandemic, however, he added that someone is always there to clean the school. The custodial and janitorial shortage is not specific to Jose Damian Elementary School, instead district officials are now faced with trying to fill vacant positions that have not been filled since the pandemic. As it stands the district has a total of 11 custodial vacancies.

"The district has made a lot of efforts to hire custodians and other positions as well. Over the past couple of months, we have held many interviews. And even when you offer the interview appointment, candidates don't show up and out of the ones that do, some of them don't pass the background check," Vasquez said.

Unlike other school districts, Canutillo ISD has not announced any incentives to new hires, yet. Vasquez told ABC-7 it is not out of the picture, however it is a move that the district's human resources department would have to approve first.

"We move custodians from one campus to the other, so that way we don't leave a campus without a single custodian. This campus right now has a couple of custodians, some of them are from other campuses and they are helping mitigate the situation right now," Vasquez explained.

For anyone looking for work, you can find available jobs at Canutillo ISD by following this link.

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.

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