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Parents and child advocates sound off after letter sent claiming Buffalo Public Schools contains lead in water

Buffalo Public Schools discussion over water.jpg
Posted at 7:17 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 19:17:17-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Some parents of students in Buffalo Schools claim the water in school buildings is unsafe to drink.

State law requires public school districts to regularly test drinking water for lead contamination.

Districts must then act if the lead is above a certain level.

School staff and parents must also be notified with updates available online.

"This is not about pointing fingers. This is about our children who are exposed to lead are being tested and that they are alright," Sam Radford with BLM Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.

Parents, school administrators and child advocates sounded off after a letter was sent to state leaders about lead being found in water samples at some Buffalo Public Schools.

Urban Think Tank president, Bishop Badger said, "James Reid, who was an engineer for the Buffalo School District, sound the alarm on concern or the complaint that he made to both the attorney general and to the district attorney of the amount of lead levels. Some as high as 10% more than it should be."

James Reid is a retired chief of engineer.

7 News' Pheben Kassahun checked on that 10%, and learned this is more than 10 times over what is deemed acceptable.

During Tuesday's news conference, leaders addressed an accusation which claimed water sample results were altered.

"When it comes to lead, it harms children's health. It includes damage to the brain, nervous system, slow growth and development, learning behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems," Badger said.

"We are taking every step to retest, remediate and where we need to replace fixtures to make sure that we are mitigating any possible exposure to lead to children in any of our schools," Buffalo Public Schools interim superintendent, Dr. Tonja Williams said.

The accusation also stated samples were collected after the water was flushed, therefore, creating inaccurate results.

Buffalo Public Schools Safety and Health director, Yvette Gordon said, "We are not allowed to do that before testing. The guidance is very clear about how long we are supposed to wait before we even go in and do a sample, and that's 8-18 hours."

"The allegations. The only way a person would know what happened is if they were actually in the building sampling. It is my understanding that Mr. Reid was not employed by the board in 2021, so I don't know how he's making these allegations," Buffalo Schools senior chemist, Valensia Sease said.

James Reid did not attend Tuesday's news conference, so 7 News was unable to ask him about these claims directly.

School officials stated the next lead test will be in 2023.

Directors of the Buffalo Clinical Testing Lab Corp announced the launching of the Lead-Free Testing Initiative, providing free lead testing to every child or student in the city.