Rodent sightings gain attention from SCS and Memphis local news


Keyarash Hatamzadeh/The Scroll

Students walk by trash surrounding one of the many rat traps around the school.

Rat sightings, terminator trucks, and misleading news stories. White Station has been in the public spotlight lately in relation to a supposed rodent problem. Action News 5, however, mainly sensationalized the story, leaving many key facts and detail out of their coverage. The source used by the local news organization was an anonymous student from the school who stated that the school is a “disgusting place” and that some teachers do not take the issue seriously. The Shelby County Board of Education, however, had already formulated a plan to combat the infestation even before the news had broken.

“I think that going to the press over the rat issue was completely unnecessary,” Hunter Goldberg (11) said. “The student also over exaggerated the problem and blamed the administrative staff, which was already dealing with the problem.”

Over the course of three to four months, SCS commissioned an independent pest control service to eradicate the rodents. Leftover food and trash in the school building have contributed the most to the increase in rat sightings.

“It really boils down to us as a student body actually trying to keep our school clean,” Goldberg said.

These new pest control measures taken by the Shelby County School board have been fairly expensive. Overall, there has been a significantly larger amount of funding put into solving the problem than in previous years at White Station.

“They redoubled their efforts with our own staff from Shelby County Schools to do the pest control and now they’ve supplemented it with outside pest control people,” SCS Board Member Billy Orgel said. “This year’s cleaning services is $19.6 million. Last year was $17.7 million, so we actually spent 1.9 million dollars more.”

Despite the efforts by local news organizations to showcase the rodent infestation as a major problem, WSHS faculty has dealt with rodent sightings long before 2017.

“There have been rat sightings for twenty years or more here,” Vice Principal Carrye Holland said. “I do think that we have the same problems that any other large high school has.”

In terms of reputation, many Memphians may view White Station in a negative light due to the controversy. With the addition of new pest control measures and maintenance staff, the school’s faculty and the SCS school board itself are trying to distance the rodent issue away from the longstanding reputation of excellence White Station has in the community.

“White Station is a very involved, high performing school. People care a lot about White Station,” Orgel said. “That’s why we added the money in our budget.”