Delaware school board files EPA complaint over lead in students’ water

File photo: Water fountains at a Philadelphia charter school are turned off because of lead in the plumbing. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

File photo: Water fountains at a Philadelphia charter school are turned off because of lead in the plumbing. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Delaware Division of Public Health found lead in 22 Delaware schools, including facilities in the Red Clay Consolidated School District.

At their meeting earlier this week, Red Clay school board members approved filing a complaint with the EPA over what they say was the state’s slowness in delivering the results of its federally funded testing to school leaders and parents.

Testing started at the end of 2020 and continued into this year, but results didn’t become public until a newspaper report earlier this month.

The board’s Jose Matthews said the delay resulted in parents being unable to get their students tested for lead exposure in a timely fashion.

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“The students, families, and community members within these buildings, and staff members within these buildings were so far out of the testing window that even if they wanted to test for any potential exposure, they had left communication and provided communication so far out that we could never potentially test for any positive exposure to lead,” Matthews said.

The testing was funded by a federal grant that said lead testing results should be delivered “early and often.”

“Not only did the community not have awareness of the results that they held, we did not have them either,” Matthews said. “I think that we have to make that distinction and clarification not only to the EPA, but also I think we have an obligation to clarify what really happened here to the community.”

The district’s complaint calls on the EPA to outline how it will correct its failure to ensure the results of federally funded tests are communicated properly.

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