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Reported rat infestation sparks walkout at Newport Harbor High School

Reported rat infestation sparks walkout at Newport Harbor High School
The campus of Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach, Calif. on Nov. 28, 2012. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Officials from the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District plan to visit Newport Harbor High School next week to investigate the campus for rats, which sparked a student and teacher walkout.

Lora Young, a vector control spokeswoman, said a date was not set as of Thursday afternoon.

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"Once we're out there, we can make a better recommendation to the school," she said.

Annette Franco, spokeswoman for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, said Thursday that the district hadn't heard from OC Vector Control about a planned visit.

"Our district did contract with a vector management specialist to further assess and address the pest concerns though," she said.

Vector control learned of complaints of a rat infestation at the Newport Beach campus on Tuesday from the Orange County Environmental Health Division. According to documents, a county health inspector conducted a "routine inspection" of the school cafeteria on April 27, the same day about 150 students and teachers walked out of class in protest over rats at the school's Dodge Hall, where math and world language classes are held.

The inspector observed some rodent droppings on the ground next to a trash bin and instructed school officials to thoroughly clean all affected surfaces, according to documents.

The rest of the cafeteria passed inspection.

Vector control officials visited Newport Harbor High two years ago after receiving complaints about rodents.

"We're looking out for the welfare of the students and the staff," Young said. "We're looking for a solution … to make sure there's no public health risk."

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