Back to School Risky Business

“Dear Parent or Guardian: The pesticides listed below have been authorized by the District to control weeds, vertebrates and insects on campus. All pesticides are applied on weekends or non-school days only by outside contractors.”

“The law states that individuals may request notification every time the district applies a pesticide.

Ms Risk Management Specialist”

…per California law 2000


Before a child is allowed on campus, a prodigious amount of forms filled out in triplicate for each student in blue ink only is required.

The amount of paperwork I have to sign just for them to play a sport each year is obscene.

So when I’m sifting through the stack I toss out every single page that isn’t absolutely necessary, including school lunch applications and ads for class rings.

I have zero tolerance for either.

I have to write down who is authorized to pick my child up from school and make a doctor give the school nurse his approval to dispense ibuprofen to my son who gets migraines.

Advil. Seriously.

Here’s how much I hate school paperwork: for years, whenever a child brought home fund raiser packets, I would throw them wholesale into the recycle bin and hand the kid ten bucks and hand the school ten bucks.

I don’t approve of child labor and I don’t approve of wasting people’s time.

I will hand you money if you don’t make me fill out forms.

Anyway, back to the toxic chemicals.

I was tossing papers out in wild abandon when this one caught my eye.

Probably because of my ant dilemma, it occurred to me that perhaps the school district had discovered a way to keep ants off their property.

You don’t see ants in the classroom, even when the little children are obviously begging to be hauled down an anthill.

There were a lot of Latin words for “lethal” that I couldn’t decipher.

The bits that made sense included, “Bedlam” “Hornet Jet Freeze” “Dragnet” “Ratimor” and “Gopher Getter”.

I was excited to discover the word “strychnine”. It balanced nicely with “rosemary and peppermint oil”.

Our school district is an equal opportunity exterminator.

Furthermore, I had no idea they employed a Risk Management Specialist.

For the last 15 years, this person has been educating parents and/or guardians such as myself of risks being managed on behalf of my child.

And we have been completely ignoring her.

And she knows it.

The paper clearly states that deadly and destructive forces are being applied to the school by ‘outside contractors’, but if I want to know which days the ‘district’ applies them, she will be happy to let me know.

Tricky lady.

She could easily have written, “Every four weeks during the full moon, we will be letting vampire bats crawl among the rafters seeking mice, only four of which actually ate our ineffective dynamite bait (aka: ‘MiceKaBoom’).”

I would have never read it.

After the first three words, it would’ve been canned.

I would like to submit an open question or two regarding these thoroughly managed risks.

Does the term “vertebrates” include soccer moms?

Which particular pest is being targeted with “permethrin”?

According to my research, it’s toxic to bees and fish, and should be kept strictly away from drinking fountains and swimming pools.

It attacks subterranean termites. And head lice.

Somehow she has to manage to sort out the risks between cooties, creepers, and kids.

Decisions, decisions.

Who, specifically, authorized the item: fluazifop-P-butyl-2-[4-[[5-(triflouromethyl)-2-pyridingyl]oxy]phenoxy]propanoate?

Will it be in Common Core Math this year?

And does it kill ants, because I felt a few brain cells die just trying to read it?

And do you, perhaps, have to fill out forms in triplicate in blue ink only each time you bring it on campus?

I had no idea school was so risky.

On behalf of parent/guardians everywhere, hands spasming with finger cramps, Thank you, Ms Risk Management Specialist, whoever you are.

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