• CMS to test more schools for lead contamination starting Monday

    By: Kristin Leigh

    Updated:

    MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. - On Monday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will begin testing more schools after finding unsafe levels of lead in the water of 27 schools last year.

    CMS officials said they will test an additional 35 schools. Officials said every school will eventually be tested, but older buildings are the top priority.

    [CMS LINK: Water quality in schools]

    [CMS LINK: Water testing program]

    Ahead of the second round of testing, the community's demand for transparency is louder than ever.

    Corrine Mack, president of the Charlotte NAACP, compared the contamination issue to the crisis in Flint, Michigan.

    “Flint started somewhere, didn't it?” Mack said.

    The crisis in Michigan put more than 100,000 residents at risk of lead poisoning.

    “The fact is it becomes a larger problem when you don't fix the small problem,” Mack said.

    CMS has been under fire for its lack of transparency.


    [Sampling and Reporting Summary]

    [CMS drinking water testing summary]

    [RELATED: CMS community expresses communication concerns over lead testing results]

    [EPA: Reducing lead in drinking water in schools]


    “I think in that respect, this situation can be compared to Flint, Michigan,” said Luis Rodriguez, a concerned parent and community activist.

    It took the district nearly a year to release water testing results.

    Last fall, the district collected 1,679 water samples at 58 schools, and 53 samples at 27 schools showed lead levels above what the Environmental Protection Agency considers to be safe for drinking.

    “What we know is that 27 schools, 24 of which serve predominantly communities of color, have had lead issues, and that information was withheld from the public for nearly a year -- far too long,” Rodriguez said.

    Activists said they want a seat at the table going forward and they believe someone should be held accountable the lack of transparency in the past year.

    “The superintendent has the responsibility, first and foremost. The buck stops at his desk first,” Mack said.

    CMS expects to have all of the testing complete by early November.

    Channel 9 asked CMS for response to the activists' most recent criticism, but the district has not responded.

    A spokesperson for the Mecklenburg County Health Department said CMS students are at a very low risk of lead exposure because so few water samples tested positive for the metal.

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