Allegations of Dirty Classrooms Fly From Maui

MAUI (KHNL) -- Allegations of dirty classrooms, and not enough people to clean them. That's what some public school teachers on Maui are saying. And the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) just filed a "class grievance." But some Oahu schools don't seem to be affected, as their classrooms are clean.

The teachers' association claims the problem has gotten so bad, teachers have to take instructional time to clean up. So far, the bulk of the complaints are coming from Maui, but other counties could also be affected.

It's a place kids go to learn their a,b,c's. But some say, schools have also become a place where they learn about dirt, grime and trash.

"You take the kindergarten class for example," said Michael McCartney, the executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. "They take naps. The room hasn't been cleaned and they end up sleeping on the floor and the teacher has to clean the floor. It takes away from instructional time. So it's not a good situation."

That's why the HSTA has filed a "class grievance." They say it comes down to funding.

"It's not to blame but the bottom line is schools are having to make hard choices about whether we hire room cleaners or whether we hire librarians," McCartney.

The teachers contract says teachers and students deserve clean and safe classrooms and have an academic environment that's conducive to learning.

HSTA says a dirty classroom can slow down the learning process.

Students aren't focused, teachers have to take instructional time to clean up the classroom which could be spent on teaching students," said McCartney. "So the bottom line is that it's a negative environment. It's not a good example for kids."

Farrington High School principal Catherine Payne agrees. That's why her classrooms are clean and tidy.

"We do have all our classroom cleaner positions filled," said Payne. "We have 15 classroom cleaners. They come every day and clean our classrooms."

"So it's not an issue here at Farrington?" asked KHNL.

"No," said Payne.

The teachers association says it all comes down to more funding for public education.

"The bottom line is public schools are doing the best they can with what they have but they don't have enough," said McCartney.

The HSTA is collecting data right now to find out how widespread the problem is. They plan to meet with the department of education to find a solution.