Southwest DeKalb’s PTSA seeks to flush out unsafe school bathrooms

DECATUR—Southwest DeKalb High School’s PTSA will host a community forum on restroom sanitation in DeKalb County schools.


The forum will be held on Feb. 25, 7 p.m., at the DeKalb County Public Library’s Decatur location, 215 Sycamore St., Decatur.


Dr. Steve J. Hodges, MD, a board-certified pediatric urologist, will be the guest speaker at the forum. Hodges is an associate professor of pediatric urology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC. He will also address breakthrough solutions to bed-wetting and other youngsters.


Dr. Tom Keating, who is coordinating the forum, said Southwest DeKalb High’s goal is to raise awareness about the lack of sanitation in school bathrooms, a problem that is impacting students’ urological health.


“The toilet revolutionalized sanitation challenges over 200 years ago, but it’s a fact: four out of 10 students in middle and high schools won’t use their school restroom,” said Keating. “More than 20 percent of young people suffer potty problems and bedwetting, incidents passed off as accidental.”


Keating said bathroom problems may be impacting as many as 70,000 middle and high school students in DeKalb.


The free forum is a part of Project CLEAN (Citizens, Learners and Educators Against Neglect). Members of Project CLEAN say some problems found in the school system’s bathrooms include no doors on bathroom stalls, no toilet paper, litter, walls covered in graffiti and damaged or missing soap dispensers.


The Project CLEAN School-based Environmental Health Initiative is a community-based partnership supported by funding from the Office of Minority Health, Office of the Secretary, US Department of Health and Human Services, Region IV.


“We know it will be easier said than done, but we want to have safe, clean hygienic bathrooms for all DeKalb County students. We are dealing with issues of privacy, urinary problems, constipation and even environmental factors,” said Keating. “We want to bring in 168 people, fill up the library and get to the bottom of this taboo subject that both parents and students have been ignoring for far too long.”