During a panel discussion at Glendale High School Tuesday night, a group of students from Clark Magnet, Crescenta Valley, Daily, Glendale and Hoover high schools spoke with Glendale Unified school board members and a packed audience about their experiences. The main takeaway — basic needs are not being met.
When the students were asked whether there is a time they don’t feel comfortable at school, many talked about unhygienic restrooms.
“I think I speak for a lot of the people in my school when I say that the bathrooms are kind of terrible,” said Marco Villagrana from Daily High School.
“I usually never want to go to the bathroom throughout the entire day because usually kids are vaping or what have you in the bathroom during lunch or even class sessions. They just don’t want to be there,” he added.
David Chibukhchyan from Glendale High agreed that vaping in school restrooms is a problem but a bigger issue is lack of hand soap, running water and paper towels.
“In many buildings here at Glendale High School, after you do your business and it’s time to wash your hands, you try every single sink and none of them even have water,” Chibukhchyan said.
“It’s very frustrating and it’s disgusting to have to deal with no soap, no water, no paper towels,” he added.
Geena Mueller, who also attends Glendale High, said she walked throughout four floors in one building and couldn’t find an unlocked restroom. She returned to class and felt physically uncomfortable.
“It’s just a basic hygiene, human right kind of a thing. As I’ve seen, the solution to no vaping in the bathrooms has been to lock the bathrooms,” she said.
Other answers to the question included expired food at lunch, heavy use of the N-word, harassment of LGBTQ students and the way the school dress code is enforced.
“There are some things that we can remedy quickly,” said school board member Nayiri Nahabedian.
“I’m looking at Glendale High School and some of the concrete complaints. And then there are some things that will take longer. We are attentive. We appreciate your time, energy and thoughtfulness. Being here tonight means a great deal to us,” she added.
Board member Greg Krikorian added, “Bathrooms — that is a never-ending challenge. We had bathroom problems 30 years ago in our schools in Connecticut. So it’s something we will have to address.”
The panel, held in the library at Glendale High, is the second of three student-led discussions the board and Glendale Unified Supt. Vivian Ekchian encouraged as a way to hear directly from students.
Members of the Student Advisory Council decided they wanted to focus on discussing belonging, school spirit, communications and attendance.
The first panel was held on Oct. 29 at Crescenta Valley High School.
“As we work together to prepare every student for success in college and career, it is vital that we understand the needs and priorities of our diverse student population,” said the district’s communications director Kristine Nam in a statement.
“Student Voice Panels are an opportunity for our board members, district leaders and community partners to hear directly from our students about the issues most important to them,” she added.
The final Student Voice Panel of the school year is scheduled for March 24 at Hoover High.