Whistleblower: Custodial Crusader – The “Horrors” of Custodial Cutbacks


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Trash, food, and human waste can within hours of exposure attract disease-carrying pests such as  rats and cockroaches”

No Custodians = Rats and Cockroaches in our Schools


Apparently the shortsighted “strategy” of San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten to address the $124 million dollar deficit is to allow our students and staff to risk their health, their learning and their site security.

According to the following email from a SDUSD Principal to site staff, the “district” (née Cindy Marten)  has “imposed a hiring freeze and spending freeze in certain departments including Custodial Services that denies Custodian substitutes or overtime to make up for absentees.


District Deeds has received a WHISTLEBLOWER Report from a committed, highly experienced individual who is deeply concerned about the repercussions of this decision.

Here is the report from Custodial Crusader:

Dear District Deeds,

I am a custodian who has years of experience within the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). Based on my custodial  job experience and what I learned as a union steward investigating SDUSD negligence regarding its handling of custodial issues, I have some unique information and insights pertaining to SDUSD’s cuts to the custodial budget and how such cuts will detrimentally impact the health and safety of students, staff and site visitors of all schools within the District.

The District claims it does not have the budget to adequately fund its Custodial Department and thus claims it has to cut substitute custodial coverage as a result.  If a custodian regularly assigned to a school site is absent for one or more days, the District will no longer provide a substitute to cover them. Neither will the district pay another custodial employee overtime compensation to perform the work of the absent custodian after they complete their own 8-hour shift. Not providing custodial coverage is detrimental in at least 3 ways:


1. Disease Risk

There are cleaning tasks that  need to be performed on a daily basis to maintain basic human sanitation and safety needs. ALL restrooms and eating areas have been designated by the District to be cleaned and supplied DAILY. The District has designated trash to be dumped  daily for the same reasons.

Just ignoring these tasks for even ONE day can lead to serious health and safety concerns. For example, if restrooms aren’t cleaned and  mopped daily, students and staff return to restrooms the following day covered in human waste potentially ladened with diseases.

Eating areas can be ladened with  disease-carrying human waste as well as trash and food.

Trash, food, and human waste can within hours of exposure attract disease-carrying pests such as  rats and cockroaches which can eat such waste, produce their own disease carry waste, multiply, and further infest schools as vectors for even more disease.

2. Deteriorating Learning Environment Risk

In my many years as a custodian, I have seen how filthy classrooms can become when they are cleaned on the District’s standard first, second, or third day cleaning schedule.

I have witnessed classroom floors in just 1-2 days after cleaning being so covered in pencils, crayons, and other  forms of litter that you could barely see the floor underneath.

I have seen classroom sinks so covered in the same amount of time in paint, glue, glitter, and pencil  shavings that you could barely see the sink underneath.

And don’t get me started on schools that participate in the ‘Breakfast In The Classroom’ program. The tables and floors of these classrooms have milk, jelly,  and other food items smeared on them on a daily basis.  

It is hard to keep  up with a thorough cleaning of the food spills and waste on a “1, 2, or 3” day scheduled cleaning basis LET ALONE IF THESE ROOMS MISS  THEIR CLEANING DAY BECAUSE THE DISTRICT WON’T PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR  AN ABSENT CUSTODIAN!  


3. Student /Staff Security and Safety Risk

As a custodian, I was taught that security, along with student and staff safety, are the 2 most important aspects of the job. Well, since that is the case, substitute coverage is required by a qualified and properly  trained custodial employee to:

a) Make sure the school site is properly secured at the end of the custodian’s shift

b.) To serve as a First Responder in case of an emergency for all after-school students and staff (especially those present for  after-school programs such as the Prime-time day care program).

In addition to the three points above, I learned as a job steward that a great deal of schools are not providing custodial coverage for after-normal-school-hours programs such as Saturday School and many sports events.

In many years and site visits of experience I learned the horrors of not providing such coverage.

I learned of such horrors as unemptied trash and human waste attracting animals that would leave their droppings all over campus the following regular school day to the disgust and health risk of students and staff alike. All the same horrors stated above would only increase and magnify if the District discontinues providing substitute custodial coverage as well.

I also learned from my SDUSD experience in general the horrors of how District management unfairly and cruelly, in violation of state and federal laws, punishes the custodians themselves for being absent rather than accepting blame for their irresponsible, unethical, disastrous, and illegal custodial cost-cutting policies.

Recently, District management have been disciplining custodians for being absent, even when they have doctor’s notes stating they cannot work the days they were absent due illness or injury. This is illegal in clear violation of both the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Fair Employment And Housing Act (FEHA).


Custodial Crusader

District Deeds agrees with Custodial Crusader…and so should all SDUSD Stakeholders, especially the School Site Staff and Students who may get sick or risk danger due to this short-sighted, short staffing.

It is unjust, unfair and potentially illegal for the Marten Administration to force Custodians to do make up the work of an absent colleague and then punish them after they get injured or sick, with proof from a doctor, for doing so.

While on the SDUSD Custodial Tiger Team, we learned that every site Custodial headcount has an hours required  formula for keeping the school site safe and clean.  It is a formula that accounts for virtually every minute of every Custodian…there is no “over staffing” allowed and every Custodian is vital to preventing disease and infestation and ensuring site security.

The job description for the Custodial Service Supervisor “Basic Function” is as follows:

Supervise the custodial and related services in the assigned area of the school district to ensure facilities are maintained in a condition of operating excellence and full educational use; supervise assigned personnel – SDUSD Custodial Services Supervisor “Basic Function.

Many SDUSD Schools, especially Elementary Schools, have only one Custodian assigned.  It is impossible to “supervise assigned personnel” if they are absent and there is no substitute.

It is also impossible to prevent the risks described by Custodial Crusader with no Custodian and no substitute.

Are rat “droppings” and cockroaches in desks and carpeting “operating excellence and full educational use”?

Is the risking of Student and Staff lives through poor or no security “operating excellence and full educational use”?

Do any of these risks ensure “Safe and well-maintained facilities” as part of the 12 Indicators of a Quality School in the SDUSD Vision 2020.

Superintendent Cindy Marten and Board of Education Trustees Barrera, Beiser, Evans, McQuary and Payne are responsible for this looming disaster and SDUSD Stakeholders should hold them  accountable for doing so.

The Superintendent and Board of Education must FULLY staff custodial support before the death or illness of one Student or Staff becomes a reality.

The Superintendent and Board of Education must act NOW!



  • Your family has been injured by the San Diego Unified School District, go to the District Deeds Complaint Forms page to find instructions to fight for your Civil Rights!

Please Click the Link Below and sign the Petition Today and READ the COMMENTS to Support the REMOVAL of Marten by SDUSD Stakeholders! 

FIRE San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten Immediately!

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About District Deeds

Mr. Engle is a blogger dedicated to investigating the San Diego Unified School District. His blog, District Deeds, strives to create transparency to the "deeds" the SDUSD hides from the SDUSD Stakeholders - Students - Parents - Teachers - Administrators - Community Members

8 thoughts on “Whistleblower: Custodial Crusader – The “Horrors” of Custodial Cutbacks”

  1. Sally Smith said:

    Is CASSAS / Saturday School going to have a custodian? Several schools have a school day on Saturdays (which must be voluntary and cannot be used for punitive reason to include making up tardies). What is the policy for custodians for CASSAS?


  2. This district…. disgusting!

    Character is who you are under pressure, not who you are when everything is fine. Your character defines your destiny.



  3. Custodial Crusader said:

    I found out about at least 12-15 schools that were having Saturday School with no custodial coverage what-so-ever during the entire time of the event. The reasons given by District management ranged from the following:

    1. Management at some schools felt
    coverage was simply not necessary.
    They stated that the teachers and
    students of the Saturday School
    class could put the trash outside the
    classrooms to be dumped the next
    Monday by the Lead Custodian (BSS),
    the Plant Operations Supervisor, or
    the Day Custodian. The managers
    stated they had the teacher(s)
    assigned to Saturday School doing the
    security normally a custodial employee
    would do like unlocking all rooms,
    restrooms, and other areas in use and
    then locking all areas at the end of the
    Saturday School Day. At some schools,
    the management there stated they
    were having the Saturday students
    “pick up” and “spruce up” the
    restrooms in use and other parts of
    the campus. Management stated
    the BSS, Plant Operations Supervisor,
    or Day Custodian could also clean all
    the Saturday School Restrooms that
    were in use in addition to to dumping
    all the trash the following Monday
    morning. It was explained to them that
    leaving food, trash, and bodily wastes
    in restrooms until Monday created
    health and safety risks outlined in my
    letter to District Deeds. It was
    explained to management that the
    William’s Act was being violated and
    that only trained District custodians
    were authorized by both their
    union contract and various laws to
    perform any necessary custodial work.
    They acted like and pretty much said
    either none of that was true or they
    didn’t care!

    2. Other managers at other schools
    stated they felt they didn’t receive
    enough funds to pay for a teacher, a
    secretary, and a custodian to staff
    Saturday School. So they would
    sacrifice the custodian.

    Also, I learned that some schools were having students attend Saturday School because they were absent from school for many days.


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