When Portland Public Schools found elevated lead levels at two school buildings this spring, they failed to turn off the water at the drinking fountains and sinks.
Tests of the water at Creston K-8 School and the Rose City Park building found elevated lead levels at multiple sinks and parents weren't notified.
"Portland Public Schools regrets not having notified families and staff as soon as the tests indicated that there were elevated levels of lead," Superintendent Carole Smith wrote in an email to parents late Friday afternoon. "While PPS staff worked quickly to replace all fixtures that indicated elevated levels of lead, we did not turn off the water in those faucets and drinking fountains prior to them being replaced and we should have."
Below is the email sent to families by Smith and Tony Magliano, chief operating officer.
Dear Portland Public Schools Families and Staff,
With the national attention drawn to lead in the water, Portland Public will conduct comprehensive district-wide water testing this summer and will share the results with the community. Two communities, Creston and Rose City Park, requested that their buildings be tested this spring.
In both buildings, testing identified between 6-8 sinks and water fountains that had lead levels that exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level (MCL) for lead under the Safe Drinking Water Act. All of these fixtures have been replaced and retested (and two science room sinks are now used only for washing) with final results of retesting expected the week of June 6th.
Portland Public Schools regrets not having notified families and staff as soon as the tests indicated that there were elevated levels of lead. While PPS staff worked quickly to replace all fixtures that indicated elevated levels of lead, we did not turn off the water in those faucets and drinking fountains prior to them being replaced and we should have. The EPA’s best practices indicate that once elevated levels of lead are found, those water faucets should not be used for drinking or food preparation until they are replaced and retested. We apologize for not following this protocol.
Going forward, Portland Public Schools will follow the EPA protocols regarding turning off fixtures with elevated levels of lead and will revise our communication procedures for families and staff to ensure that they receive timely notification of any health or safety concerns.
If you would like information on lead testing, please call the Multnomah County Leadline at 503-988-4000 or email at email@example.com. For additional information, the Multnomah County Lead Poison Prevention Program’s website is https://multco.us/health/lead-poisoning-prevention.
For other questions, please feel free to call Andy Fridley, Senior Manager of Environmental Health and Safety with Portland Public Schools, at (503) 916-3409 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Chief Operating Officer