SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Lakeland High School alumni and parents are unhappy over the conditions caught on camera in weight and locker rooms at the school.
“I decided to go in and see for myself and I was horrified with the things that I saw, how it smelled and it wasn’t maintained and it wasn’t cleaned,” said parent CaSandra Baker. “Our kids deserve better.”
Photographs taken inside the rooms show rusty gym equipment and moldy lockers. Grime is on the walls and floors.
Baker, whose three children attend the school, said that students are uncomfortable in the filth, and embarrassed when visiting teams come to town.
“It’s very disheartening to them,” she said.
Two other parents, who talked to 10 On Your Side anonymously, backed those reports. One mother said that her child refuses to change in the locker room. The parents said health is the main concern.
“Coming from a medical background, knowing the potential that is in there … it could be staph, it could be MRSA, it could be anything, we just don’t know,” Baker said.
Domenick Epps, a member of the Lakeland High School Alumni Association, also visited the rooms.
“I was pretty shocked by what I saw in the weight room,” he said. “A lot of rust on the weights… no padding on the bench… it was just in poor, poor shape.”
Epps and others launched an online petition to fight for improved conditions. So far, there are more than 500 signatures.
He’s also met with the athletic director and a school board member to address the matter.
“It seems like everyone is coming together to bring a solution, it just took for this to happen to get things moving speedily.”
10 On Your Side reached out to the Suffolk Public Schools superintendent and a division spokesperson.
In an email, spokesperson Bethanne Bradshaw said that the division is working to replace the lockers, “As soon as procurement process is complete.” She said to expect that to happen no later than the summer, and that the plans were underway prior to the launch of the petition.
“It probably should have happened about 12 summers ago,” Epps said. “But if it gets done, it gets done, and we’re excited about that.”
“That is encouraging,” Baker said. “I just hope that things don’t stop there because there’s more that needs to be done… if this is the beginning of getting things done, then I’m excited.”
Bradshaw did not indicate whether the division is also planning to replace any equipment beyond the lockers.