Carroll superintendent: No litter boxes in schools

By: - February 9, 2022 1:10 pm

Unfounded rumors of cat litter boxes in school restrooms prompted a note to parents from one Iowa superintendent. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

There are no litter boxes in the restrooms of the Carroll Community School District, its superintendent stressed, despite internet rumors that some schools are installing them for children who “identify” as cats.

“Staff members are not encouraging or accommodating anyone behaving or identifying as a cat or any other animal,” Superintendent Casey Berlau said Tuesday in a note to parents in the western Iowa district. “It is very unfortunate that this rumor has been spread over the last several weeks.”

His exasperated note came amid a heightened scrutiny of schools across the nation, where curriculum about race is being questioned and the recommendations of certain books might lead to criminal prosecution. Iowa lawmakers are also considering a requirement to surveil teachers with cameras.

The latest notion that schools would supply litter boxes for students who consider themselves cats is apparently rooted in an increasingly tolerant student culture for those that openly question their sexual identities and gender preferences.

A screenshot of a now-deleted Facebook post.

“WARNING RANT!!!!” wrote Carroll resident Shelly Loew on Facebook, in a now-deleted Monday post of which Iowa Capital Dispatch obtained screenshots. “So 2 middle school kids are allowed to identify as cats and go to school? & Now some schools are also allowing litter boxes??!!”

Loew did not immediately respond to a request to comment for this article.

Her post elicited comments from a former Carroll school board president, Jen Munson, that “I warned people during the election about this type of stuff” and from an area resident, Tristan Hinners, who claimed that Des Moines has students who say they are a dog and a falcon.

“The one that identifies as a dog has to be taken outside to use the bathroom by a teacher..,” she wrote, “and the falcon screeches up and down the hallways.”

A screenshot of a now-deleted Facebook post.

Phil Roeder, a spokesperson for Des Moines Public Schools, is aware of the swirling claims but said: “We have real education issues to deal with here. Litter box rumor control isn’t one of them.”

Berlau wrote that Carroll is not alone in Iowa in dispelling rumors of litter boxes in bathrooms. Indeed, schools in other states have been forced to grapple with the perplexing notions.

“This issue gains negative attention because of its outrageousness,” Berlau wrote in his note to parents.

He did not immediately respond to a request to comment for this article.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.

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