By CHAZ PLAGER
(Editor’s note: Chaz Plager is a senior at Palisades High School this year and he was asked to do an in-depth report on the state of the bathrooms at that school. Are there enough for the student body? Are they up-to-date? And are they clean?)
“I don’t think there’s a single boy’s room that isn’t filthy,” said senior Josh Lande about the bathrooms on the Palisades high School campus. “They gotta do something about that.”
Students complain only the gender-neutral ones are kept clean. “They’re [women’s rooms] nasty as hell,” complained senior Auden Lachina.
One student has even taken to leaving up little reminders to fellow students in stalls to flush.
Many students blame the school for the restrooms’ disarray, claiming they ought to spend more money on them instead of new laptops. However, the real blame may lie with the students. Toilets are often left unflushed, and just last year a student filmed himself tearing down a urinal divider on camera. The student was never identified, despite his face being on camera.
“We often receive generous donors willing to have their money spent on bathroom repairs, and usually a few weeks after we get them fixed something else breaks,” says PaliHi Principal Dr. Pamela Magee. “It’s hurtful to hear students say we don’t care.”
NUMBER OF BATHROOMS:
With almost 3,000 students, the number of stalls required by the California Department of Education is one toilet per 30 women and one toilet and one urinal for 50 men.
Palisades has 30 restrooms, 14 are for women, 13 for men and three are gender neutral. Pali High facility manager Don Parcell said he didn’t have a figure for the number of stalls, but “each men’s room has between one to three stalls and the women’s and gender-neutral restrooms have been two and five stalls.”
Parcell also includes the Palisades Stadium by the Sea bathrooms in the count because “those bathrooms are not Out-of-Bounds at lunch break as we have the Stadium open for students to play, and students can and do use them at that time. They’re also open during class time for PE Classes, so they’re accessible throughout the day.”
A student told CTN at the game on Friday night that “these are the worst bathrooms on campus.”
“The pool bathrooms would not be fully accessible during nutrition and lunch,” Parcell said, and added, “but if needed if enough other students’ restrooms are not available they could be, and at times have been, made available, though generally they’re not fully accessible.”
The G-building restroom has the most stalls – 10.
Parcell said, “There’s an ADA stall in almost every student restroom,” and added the ADA stalls were in the first-floor restrooms. The stadium bathrooms are not ADA-accessible, nor are the bathrooms in Mercer Hall.
“I’m confident the vast majority of the bathrooms were initially built when the school was built in 1960, and opened in 1961,” Parcell said in an email sent August 28. He also noted that they had been remodeled over the decades.
“The last few remodeled were about six student bathrooms four to five years ago, with the benefit of a very generous donation, and we would have remodeled more of them if we had more funding to do so.”
Although Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) owns the facilities, Pali is responsible for facility repairs and receives no funding from LAUSD.
When Parcell was asked if the sink and fixtures had been replaced or updated, he said, “Yes, a number of times over the last 60+ years.
“All the sinks in the recently renovated six student restrooms were all upgraded,” Parcell said. “Once additional upgrade/replacement funds become available, additional sinks would be replaced/upgraded.”
There are still some five-gallon toilets at the facility, making them more than 60 years old. Some have been replaced with three- to three-and-half gallon toilets, which is considered reduced flow.
“A few are the 1.3- or 1.6-gallon ones [in the pool area],” Parcell said. “If funding were made available, we’d want to upgrade all of them to 1.3-gallon toilets, but we do not have the funding. LAUSD does not fund or provide any such upgrades or repairs for PCHS at all, so these need to be funded out of PCHS’s local budget.”
Drug use is also an issue in restrooms. It’s not too uncommon to hear a fire alarm go off from a cigarette lit in the restroom, or for a sickly-sweet smell to linger in a stall.
“I hit my vape in there like every other day,” a student told CTN. “It’s not like I can get a free period anymore, and I can’t make it through the day otherwise.
“If a guy has his vape out, you can usually ask for a hit and he’ll give you one,” the student said. “I’d do the same. School sucks and we’re all in it together, so might as well try to make it fun.”
To attempt to combat this problem, security guards hired by Pali are stationed in front of every restroom at lunch. However, this leads to many innocent students feeling uncomfortable under a security guard’s gaze.
Pali has also attempted to stop smoking/vaping on breaks with the new E-Pass system, an app that students are required to use.
Proposed by Dean Brian Vanducci in 2022, the E-Pass app logs each student leaving to use the restroom digitally and alerts school staff if a student takes longer than 10 minutes.
“I think it’s going to be the new norm,” said Principal Magee. “We’ve seen great success with it, and you can see there’s a lot less students in places they’re not supposed to be or off task.”
An insider source on the Pali ASB (Associated Student Body) Council tells CTN that deans have also been keeping track of student relationships and keep watch for when two students in a relationship attempt to use the restroom at the same time. When asked, Dr. Magee nor other deans could give a clear answer as to the veracity of the statement.
Parcell was asked how much is spent on repairs, “It varies from year to year, but I do not have a summary of such,” he wrote CTN.
(Writer’s note: Speaking from a student’s viewpoint, students, together, may be able to keep the bathrooms cleaner, something the administration cannot. It means students need to wipe the toilet seat after using a stall, stop throwing wet tiolet paper on the ceiling and FLUSH, please.)