A Wahiawa woman says her daughter's elementary school is falling short after bed bugs were found in a book borrowed from the school's library. But the Department of Education doesn't believe the school is infested.
The book was borrowed from the Helemano Elementary School library in Whitmore Village on April 14. The girl's mother, Jennifer Wakeland, said the school quickly replaced the items where the bugs had spread, but she doesn't believe enough is being done to inform others about the problem.
Wakeland said her daughter showed the book to her and her husband after a bug crawled out of it.
"I opened up the book. I opened up the spine of it and looked in and I could see them," said Wakeland.
Wakeland said she took the book outside to the garage and hit it against the floor to get the bugs out. "I know there were at least ten in there," she said. "And I know they got into my daughter's backpack through the book, because they were in there too."
After suspecting bed bugs, Wakeland quickly sealed the backpack and books in plastic bags. Since it was a Friday, she had to wait until the following Monday to show them to school officials, who took the bags and replaced the infected items.
Bed bugs are parasites that feed on the blood of sleeping people. They are not known to carry disease, but their bites can leave welts.
The Department of Education said, in a statement, "Upon learning of a bed bug in a borrowed book, the school library was inspected. It was determined that fumigation was not needed."
"They felt that it was an isolated incident and that they weren't going to do anything to treat the library," said Wakeland. "I thought that because they were bed bugs that the library would have been closed that day when I showed him."
The DOE also said, “As a precaution the school sent a parent letter home regarding health awareness of bed bugs and other related topics.” Wakeland had requested the letter, but was disappointed that it didn't mention that bed bugs had been found in the library book.
"When the note came out I was angry," she said. "I felt like they slapped me in the face. I felt like they were trying to pacify me, to get me to go away."
Wakeland said her home was inspected, and exterminators determined that her home needed to be treated for bed bugs. She says treatment was conducted as a precaution.
She said she's speaking out to alert other families.
"I want the rest of the community to know that this is in that library, and I don't want it to happen to them, too."