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Valley Stream Central High School District’s Health Department Violations

Cody Sung

Volume 4 Issue 5

June 26, 2024

Valley Stream Central High School District’s Health Department Violations

Image Provided by Nassau County Health Department via Newsday


According to the New York State Association of County Health Officials, local health departments coordinate with the New York State Department of Health to prevent health hazards, fight diseases, educate people about healthy lifestyles, protect communities from injuries and violence, and provide health-related services to people. Apart from these tasks, health departments inspect food service establishments, including those in schools. According to Newsday, under the federal free or reduced lunch program, schools that accept federal money for this program are required to have the county health department conduct biannual health inspections; only 6% of schools on Long Island in the program have met the requirement, as compared to 54% in New York State. In Nassau County, 46% of schools were not inspected during the 2022-23 school year, compared to 15% in the state and a mere 8% in New York City. The Newsday article stated that health officials told a nutrition director at a school district that “unless there is a critical violation on the first visit, they will not follow up with a second inspection as they do not have the staffing to do so” and that health officials in both Nassau and Suffolk claimed that inspections once a year were enough.

Graphic created by Newsday 

However, the lack of inspections was not the only problem revealed in the Newsday article, last updated on May 14, 2024. According to Newsday, the most common violations found in cafeterias on the island were inadequate hand-washing facilities or improperly located, dirty, or broken toilets. Other common problems, according to the analysis, included lack of running water or issues with plumbing and sinks. Rarer violations included dead mice, live and dead cockroaches, insufficient food storage refrigeration, and rodent droppings, a violation that a Nassau County health inspector found in Valley Stream Central High School’s cafeteria during a routine inspection on October 11, 2023. The inspector noted rodent droppings “on the shelf directly adjacent to breadcrumbs and on shelves above and below” and inside “[t]wo large carton boxes containing … packaged Trix and [Cocoa Puffs],” along with a “[d]ouble bagged plastic bag of breadcrumbs (approximately 2lbs) found in a dry storage room … with a gnawed small opening.” This was listed as a critical violation on the health inspection report for Central, for food "from an unapproved source, spoiled, adulterated on premises.” The violation, resulting in foodborne illness, must be immediately corrected along with those related to facility maintenance, cleanliness, and an improperly functioning sewage disposal system, according to the publicly available food service establishment inspection results for the county. Valley Stream North High School had two non-critical violations in its inspection on September 28, 2023, for the presence of insects or rodents and dirty or damaged surfaces. In total, according to the Newsday article, 137 violations were reported during inspections across the four high schools in the Valley Stream Central High School District and the two feeder elementary school districts, Valley Stream District 13, and District 30. 

Image of the critical violation in Valley Stream Central High School’s cafeteria, provided by Newsday 

Dr. Wayne Loper, the superintendent of the district, responded to the Newsday report in a message sent through the district’s ParentSquare announcement service on May 15, 2024, stating that the infraction count listed by Newsday in its report “occurred over a seven-year period.” Including the elementary districts, there were “an average of approximately two infractions per year per building” with the “huge majority of the citations” being “for non-critical items, such as signs being improperly placed, minor plumbing issues, or painting that needed to be done.” He said, “In all of these cases, the infractions did not impact the actual quality of the food served to our students or the general cleanliness of the cafeteria space.” Loper further stated that “there were only 4 critical violations over the seven-year period” of the investigation and that all violations were either corrected while the inspector was still on site or immediately after the inspection.  Addressing the rodent droppings violation in Central’s cafeteria, he stated that “steps were taken to remedy the situation and put in place protocols that would mitigate this type of situation from happening again.” He ended the message with a commitment to meeting local and state health department requirements and a notice that this year, the school district changed their food service vendor “and will work closely with them and our component elementary school districts, to ensure we are delivering healthy, nourishing meals to our students in clean, healthy cafeteria facilities.” 

ParentSquare announcement sent by superintendent Dr. Wayne Loper 

It is unclear whether the actions taken in response to Central’s violation were successful, since as of May 27, 2024, no new inspection has been listed by the health department, despite the presence of a critical food safety violation. 






“The Function of Local Health Departments in New York State,” New York State Association of County Health Officials, 

“Only 6% of eligible Long Island school cafeterias inspected twice a year as required by federal law, among fewest in New York,” Newsday, 

“Nassau County Health Department Food Service Establishment Inspections,” Nassau County Health Department, 

“Message from the Superintendent,” Dr. Wayne Loper via ParentSquare, 

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