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Report details rats, mold plaguing Phoenix school district

Posted at 5:52 PM, Oct 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 23:38:56-04

Rats biting students, a half-million dollar curriculum going unused, black mold on four campuses. These are just a few things brought to light in a new report about Murphy Elementary School District.

Back in June, the State Board of Education took over the district after it was plagued by serious financial issues.

In a 26-page report, a receiver charged by the state to look into the Murphy schools laid out problem after problem. Things like poor book-keeping and wasteful spending led to a $2.2 million deficit, painting a dire picture of the troubled district.

"I want them to be successful," said parent Rodretta Chambers.

Like every parent whose child attends the Murphy Elementary School District, Chambers has high expectations for the five of hers currently enrolled there.

"I would want them to have better accommodations if I'm sending them to school every day on my part doing my end, I would want the district to do their part," said Chambers.

Unfortunately, the district has fallen well short on that promise.

"Things do need to change," said Chambers.

In a newly-released report, a team tasked with investigating what went wrong within the Murphy Elementary School District shows misspending and mishandling of district funds was a regular occurrence.

In once instance, a $500,000 curriculum that included teaching materials like text books, workbooks, and science lab kits went unused. But that didn't stop the district from purchasing another curriculum for $173,000.

The report goes on to say the schools were being tested for evidence of black mold at all four campuses that comprise the district.

Then there's the rats.

The report says rodent and pest problems became so bad at Alfred Garcia Elementary that two students were bitten by rats last year.

Wasteful spending also filled the report, including $85,000 paid to a maintenance company to service HVAC units. Basic maintenance that was never done.

Arizona Cardinals tickets donated to the school were reportedly even sold by employees instead of attending the games.

The school's then-superintendent Jose Diaz was even given a $12,000 performance bonus despite over-spending and declining student success.

"I just hope they get it better and do better for the children's sake," said Chambers.

Many of the items found within the report are already being addressed, such as the black mold, rodents and pests, as well as the hiring of new management officials.

Results from the mold testing are still pending.

We reached out to both the state department of education and the Murphy School District for a response on the details found in the report, but both declined to comment.