At least a dozen schools now have found lead problems... Reilly Elementaty School being 're-examined' while top CPS officials evade reporters... CPS continues lead testing while giving another example of governance by consultants and e-mailed press statements...

Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Forrest Claypool (above, with his bottled water during the Board of Education's May 25 meeting) has refused to speak directly to the press or to hold an actual press conference about the problems with lead in the city's public schools. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Rather than working with the Chicago Teachers Union, school engineers and nurses who are experts on such subjects, or staff in schools, Chicago Public Schools is managing the third largest school district in the United States by press release -- not even holding press conferences where someone might ask a question that wasn't pre-scripted. It's a Rahm Emanuel special of scripted and controlled governance. The problem is that the city has more than 500 public schools, and public education taking place in dozens of other buildings, and the dangers from lead (and other heavy metals) in these places is finally being exposed to the public. Slowly and with maximum obfuscation.

And to read the latest stories about lead problems in the schools, someone who doesn't know Chicago might think that the head of CPS was a guy named Michael Passman.

By June 8 2016, the nation's third largest school district released information through media outlets that 12 more CPS schools had lead in their drinking water. But there was no press conference by Forrest Claypool, who is still "Chief Executive Officer" of CPS. Instead, Passman is doing the talking -- via email.

Substance News has most recently been investigating lead in Chicago Public Schools water since April 2016, and this story is growing every day. [Substance exposed several dangerous buildings decades ago, including our exposes on the fact that Carver Area High School was built in a toxic waste puddle and the old Simeon Vocational High School was killing its coaches and endangering its athletes because of the massive doses of asbestos in the basement where winter training took place for years].

Now it's the 21st Century. The district has not released any numbers on how many students or staff members have been tested for lead poisoning (and other heavy metal dangers) -- or if any have tested positive for lead poisoning.

Instead, the corporate media gets well scrubbed rhetoric: “Given heightened awareness nationally about lead exposure for children and to provide parents with timely information, Chicago Public Schools is taking proactive steps to ensure that our children’s drinking water is safe across all schools by testing every school in the district,” said district spokesman Michael Passman, according to the latest news reports.

“Reilly [Elementary School on the Northwest Side] is being re-tested, and results are being expedited,” CPS said in a statement. “The Reilly findings are being confirmed before being posted because of possible extenuating circumstances that could have compromised the testing accuracy. Out of an abundance of caution, potable water fixtures have been taken off line until the test results come back.”

Since lead poisoning became a national issues thanks to the racism of the Michigan state governor and his staff in the face of the crisis in Flint, Michigan, others have been paying attention. But it's possible that Chicago is either "another Flint" -- or worse than Flint in terms of the number of people facing exposure to lead (and other toxic metals).

CPS continued by stating the initial samples at Reilly may be "skewed" because water at the school may have been off in days leading up to sample collection.

“As a precaution, we have turned off all the water fountains and brought in water coolers,” a robocall to families of Reilly students said. “We will have the full results by the end of the week.” Perhaps an indication of how little top CPS officials take the current lead problems can be seen by examining who does the official talking to the press about the current news. According to the most recent CPS "Position File," Michael Passman has been working at the CPS Central Office since 2013 as a "Deputy Press Secretary" at an annual salary of $85,000. Forrest Claypool has yet to hold a press conference about the problems, or even issue an email.

The most comprehensive story update was published June 8, 2016 on DNA Info Chicago and is printed here below:

Here's The List Of CPS Schools That Have Tested Positive For Lead So Far, By Ariel Cheung, Josh McGhee and Tanveer Ali | June 8, 2016 4:28pm | Updated on June 8, 2016

CHICAGO — Twelve Chicago Public Schools have found elevated levels of lead in their water since testing began district-wide last month — one in every five of schools tested so far.

And test results haven't come back yet for hundreds more schools.

The results come as the district "is taking proactive steps to ensure that our children's drinking water is safe across all schools," said spokesman Michael Passman.

The schools testing positive range from Andersonville to Morgan Park. So far, 11 schools have tested above federal limits of 15 parts per billion, or .015 milligrams of lead per liter of water. The 12th school, Reilly Elementary, is being retested following concerns the test might not have been accurate.

The remaining 11 schools include: Beidler Elementary; Brentano Math and Science Academy; Budlong Elementary; Harvard Elementary; Esmond Elementary; Fernwood Elementary; Lasalle II Language Academy; Josephine Locke Elementary; Peirce School Of International Studies; Perez Elementary and Tanner Elementary.

So far, 58 schools have received results of the lead testing, which has included 15,853 samples of water sources as of June 7. Of the 3,044 samples with results so far, 70 have shown actionable levels of lead, roughly 2 percent.

The tainted samples came mostly from drinking fountains, along with one kitchen sink and four other sinks, CPS said. Any schools with samples above federal standards will have water shut off until the issue is addressed. Half the 12 schools had just a single source of contamination, with some barely exceeding the acceptable levels of lead found in water.

Tanner Elementary was the first school to test positive. The South Side school, 7350 S. Evans Ave., also had the most sources above acceptable levels and had the highest amount of lead. The 114 parts per billion found in a water fountain is seven times the allowed limit.

Perez Elementary School in Pilsen came close to Tanner, with five samples in the annex basement testing between 24 and 108 parts per billion of lead. Beidler Elementary in East Garfield Park had five samples that tested between 24 and 111.

Three samples at Brentano had lead levels between 16 and 55 parts per billion.

Another 13 schools had some lead in their water samples, but were below the federal threshold for allowed levels. Burroughs Elementary School in Brighton Park, for example, had traces of lead in all 45 of its samples, with the highest result at 2.17 parts per billion.

Water faucets and fountains were shut off at Reilly Elementary School, 3650 W. School St., in Avondale and Peirce School of International Studies, 1423 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., in Andersonville.

Reilly sent home a letter to parents and issued automated phone calls explaining the situation on Tuesday, the same day it received the results, CPS said. District officials believe the elementary school's water might have been turned off a few days before the initial samples were taken.

That "would have a significant impact on results," CPS said.

The call told parents "we received results for Reilly that indicated levels above the EPA's action level, but we are concerned that there may be anomalies and are doing an immediate retest to better understand the situation," according to a script provided by CPS.

The school supplied bottled water for students and placed water coolers next to every fountain in the school.

Reilly Principal Ken Fitzner did not respond to requests for comment.

The city Water Department assessed the situation Wednesday, with results expected by the end of the week.

At Pierce, a parent was told elevated levels were found in one water fountain and a note would go out to families Thursday.

Students confirmed at least two water fountains were shut down at the school Wednesday. Pierce Principal Lorianne Zaimi was not immediately available for comment.

It was not immediately known what levels of lead were found in the schools.

CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool called for district-wide testing in late May after Tanner Elementary tested positive last month as part of a pilot program. The district began by testing 324 schools built before 1986 with pre-kindergarten programs.

The government is especially concerned with children drinking lead-tainted water, as they're more susceptible to its effects. Amounts of lead that won't hurt adults can hinder mental and physical development in children, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

While no level of lead is totally safe when found in drinking water, experts say hand-washing or other contact exposure is not harmful.

Concerns over lead poisoning stemming from the rampant lead-related issues in Flint, Michigan, pushed CPS to test 32 schools in April before expanding the program to every school in the district before the end of the school year. In Flint, nine in 10 homes tested had lead values averaging 25 parts per billion.

Of those first Chicago schools tested, Tanner Elementary was the only one to exceed federal standards for the presence of lead in water. Six met federal standards, while 25 have no lead whatsoever in the water.

The district pledged to notify students' families, supply bottled water for children and make repairs at any school with lead found in the water. The results are also supposed to be posted online.

Last month, Ogden International School said it passed recent tests for lead poisoning at both its campuses.

Other References:


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