BOSTON (CBS) – At a public meeting Monday evening, some parents voiced concerns over lack of communication from the Boston Public School system after students at four different schools were possibly exposed to elevated levels of lead from water fountains that were mistakenly turned on.
Anna Ross, a mother to a third grader and kindergartner at the Mather School, questioned why she found out about the possible exposure in February, more than a month after the fountains were prematurely activated.
“How are you going to help me believe that you are really giving me the information I need because right now, I feel as though you withheld crucial health information from me as a parent,” Ross told a panel of administrators and water experts.
Superintendent of schools, Tommy Chang, could not clarify why parents were notified later only saying that the incident is under investigation.
“In regards to Mather, that is unacceptable. When we get information, we absolutely need to communicate this to our parents,” Chang said.
Boston Medical Center pediatrician, Dr. Sean Palfrey, told parents that the levels of lead in the water that kids may have been exposed to would have little to no health impacts on the children.
“Boston is not Flint. That the levels of lead in any water they are exposed to in the schools is very low,” Palfrey said.
BPS reports that newly installed water fountains at the Lee School, Curley School, Another Course to College, and Mather Elementary School were prematurely turned on due to a miscommunication between the districts’ facilities department and a third party contractor. When the mistake was realized, the fountains were tested for lead. Among the four schools, elevated lead levels were detected in 17 fountains.
Two BPS facilities have since been placed on administrative leave as a result of an investigation into the mistake, Superintendent Tommy Chang said.
In April, all 38 BPS schools with functioning water fountains were tested for lead, an effort by Mayor Marty Walsh and Superintendent Chang to provide all students with clean drinking water. State law only requires two schools to be tested every year. Four returned results with elevated levels.
In a statement released last week, Chang said all active water fountains had been triple tested for lead and were fine for student and faculty use.
Going forward, the district plans to test for lead in the water in every school, every year.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports