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More Lead Found in New Rochelle Elementary School Drinking Water

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More Lead Found in New Rochelle Elementary School Drinking Water

April 30, 2016 - 03:38
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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- More than twenty percent of drinking fountains and sinks at the George M. Davis Jr Elementary School have tested positive for elevated levels of lead. The test results came more than three weeks after two drinking fountains indicated elevated levels of lead. The elevated lead levels primarily impacted kindergarten and first grade students.

Officials with the City School District of New Rochelle have previously stated that the district has not previously tested the water quality in any school buildings so there is no way to know how long there have been water quality issues at Davis. They may have existed for years.

“Drinking fountains in kindergarten and first grade classrooms located along the main office hallway will remain shut,” said Davis Principal Michael Galland. “The District has initiated further study and testing of pipes located throughout classrooms located along the main office hallway.”

In the letter sent Friday evening, parents were told “a drinking fountain in our library hallway contained levels of lead in the water that slightly exceeded the EPA threshold of 15 parts per billion” In fact, at 47 parts per billion, the level was more than three times the federal EPA threshold of 15 parts per billion.

Initial testing for water quality took place at the end of March. Information about the test results for South End schools, which showed no elevated levels of lead, was made available to the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee on March 30th, the same day as the test results were delivered to the district. The results from the North End schools, delivered to the district on April 5th, which includes the elevated lead levels at Davis School, was withheld from members of the committe until April 20th. The water quality test results from the most recent tests has not been provided to the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee or made public.

Few details were provided about the actual lead levels in the water at Davis School other than that a total of 38 drinking fountains and sinks were tested and that 8 of them indicated elevated levels of lead. The exact amount had not been made public or shared with the committee charged under New York State law with monitoring water quality in public schools.

Galland told parents in his letter that drinking fountains in all Grade 2-5 classrooms and hallways, in the cafeteria and outside of the gym doors, will be reopened as water tests show that water from these fountains is safe.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this article is a member of the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee. He has had made clear in a letter to the committee co-chairs and the administration and board his deep displeasure with the withholding of water quality information from the committee, and that information about the most recent test results was communicated formally to the entire Davis School community without notifying the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee.

RELATED: Elevated Levels of Lead Found in Drinking Fountain at New Rochelle School, Water Shut Off at School

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I am beyond livid about the water testing at Davis. I am a member of the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee. During our public meetings I have asked numerous questions about water quality testing. In response, we, the duly-appointed members of the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee, were told the following: (1) water quality testing in schools is not required by law and there has been no prior water quality testing in the City School District of New Rochelle so no baseline or longitudinal data exists; (2) the motivation to conduct water quality tests was based on news reports about Flint, Michigan in March 2016 even though the Flint Water Crisis had been a major national news story long before then; (3) the first water quality test ever at Davis was done on 3/29/16; (4) the results of that test was received by the district on 4/5/16 and one water fountain was shut off; (5) on 4/8, tests were ordered throughout Davis and that it would take 3 weeks to get the results; (6) on 4/14, all water fountains and sinks at Davis were shut off; (7) despite repeated questions by me the district refused to explain the thought process from 4/5 to 4/14, as to what changed so that the district went from shutting down 1 fountain to shutting down the entire building; (8) we were provided an implausible explanation as to why the district had the water testing done through a BOCES contractor at double the cost of the Westchester County Department of Health; (9) we were told 2 weeks ago we would be provided forthwith a copy of the presentation made to the board by Arturo Rivera of Aramark but no such copy has ever been provided; (10) and now on Friday night of 4/29, the principal sends out hundreds of emails and Robocalls to the entire Davis community and yet as of 4/30 the committee has once again not been provided the test data and was told nothing about the situation at Davis even though air and water quality testing is one of the main functions of the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee under NYS law. This is entirely unacceptable and does not pass the smell test. I have requested an emergency meeting of the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee no later than Wednesday 5/3.

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