PLANT CITY — The Raiders have rats in the kitchen, and maybe elsewhere in Plant City High School.
Hillsborough schools officials say the school's kitchen was shut this week so a pest control company could deal with the scurrying creatures.
Steve Hegarty, a district spokesman, said he wasn't sure about the problem's extent or when exactly it surfaced, but according to a Plant City High student, rats have been running around for years.
Rachel Curci, 16, said she remembers hearing her sister, Heather, discussing the rodents, "and she's 21."
That's nothing, however, compared to last year when a rat ran across her foot while she was standing in the school's mall area where students gather for lunch, she said.
"It ran into a bathroom," said Curci, a sophomore now. "Pretty much a quarter of the mall was screaming. It caused a big scene."
The problem is so well-known by students, she said, that some refuse to eat cafeteria food and make joking references to "rat dogs" and "rat burgers." Sometimes, she said, she hears what sounds like rats scurrying across the ceiling while she's in class.
Hegarty said the district is dealing with the issue.
"We have a pest-control issue, and when we have a problem we take care of the problem like anyone would," he said.
The district elected to bring in pest removal experts this week because it's a shortened week due to Easter. In the interim, said Hegarty, students will receive boxed lunches.
"Things will be back to normal on Monday," he said.
Rich Shopes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2454.