The dissonance between promises elected officials make versus the reality of government and the bureaucracy oftentimes is astounding. Election after election, most candidates ride along public opinion consensus that education is their first priority. But the money hardly follows the hot air coming from their mouths.
For instance: Did you know that, according to GovGuam’s own rules, the presence of rats in a business will result in a shut down of the company, but those same rats can run around a school, and the Department of Public Health and Social Services will give the school system a pass?
Consider that for a minute. According to GovGuam policy, it’s less important to assure the health and safety of public school students than it is to protect adults at work.
Last week, DPHSS sanitary inspectors shut down a restaurant in Tamuning on the report from a customer who allegedly saw a rat running across the place.
On Tuesday, a Tiyan High School student sent Kandit a picture of dead rat and gigantic roaches in one of the restrooms there. The student sent a video of the same scene hours later and sent it to Kandit. No one at the school had done anything about it.
Kandit sent the photo to DPHSS director Arthur San Agustin with the question, “If Public Health is able to shut down Denny’s on the eye witness report of a rat, should Public Health shut down Tiyan High School with this actual evidence of a rat left to rot among the kids for an entire day?”
Mr. San Agustin referred the question to the chief of the Division of Environmental Health, the part of DPHSS where sanitary inspectors work. Matsumoto “Tom” Nadeau responded to Kandit:
“Director San Agustin forwarded your inquiry to me about the concerns of rats at Tiyan High School and why DPHSS has not “shut” down the school like it did for Denny’s Restaurant recently.
“Section 4719 of the new rules and regulations governing school building sanitation granted existing schools five years, from the date of the regulations adoption, to come into full compliance with the requirements:
“‘§4719. Existing Facilities. School facilities in existence at the time that these regulations take effect shall be given five years from the date that these rules become effective to come into full compliance with the requirements of these rules unless a school facility or person files a written statement of exception with the Director and receives a variance as provided in §4721.’
“As a result, DPHSS may not take enforcement action against existing schools for violations of the regulations until Jun 11, 2024 since the new regulations was adopted in Jun 11, 2019. Nonetheless, we will contact GDOE and look into this rat issue.”
You read that correctly. Our own government – by the administration and the Guam Legislature’s adoption of these rules and regulations – made it a rule that public schools can be unsafe and unhealthy to a degree that would not otherwise be tolerated in establishments frequented by adults.
One note of accountability: These rules were enacted before the first six months of the administration of Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. It is possible these rules were not drafted during Ms. Leon Guerrero’s term, but during her predecessor’s, former Gov. Eddie Calvo. They were enacted during the Thirty-fifth Guam Legislature. Several current senators also were members of that term.