DeKalb Schools To Test Water Sources For Lead

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The DeKalb County School District says it will test all of its water sources for lead. Officials say it’s a proactive move and wasn’t prompted by an incident in the school system. DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green said the district had been conducting random tests, but lately administrators questioned that approach.

“There was that lingering question about whether that actually was comprehensive enough to let us know for sure, and we came away from that discussion feeling that was not adequate and comprehensive enough, and we moved to this level,” Green said at a press conference Tuesday.

The decision comes after the recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and after high lead levels were found in school water sources in New York City and Portland, Oregon.

The district has established a web page to notify parents about the tests and the results.

“As we get them, we will publish them,” said Joshua Williams, the district’s chief operations officer. “We will make them available to the parents, but we will also send formal notification through the school as well.”

Williams said parents will be notified in writing if there is a problem at their child’s school that needs to be addressed.

The Atlanta Public Schools began a similar testing program as a precaution last spring. This summer, when asked if DeKalb and other districts would follow suit, DeKalb replied:

“As a standard practice for the past 20 years, the District has not used any lead solder in any of our new construction, additions or renovation work.  Also, all of our copper piping repairs are made using a press pipe joining process that does not require any soldering.  We continue to test and monitor water quality at all of our schools.”

Lead testing in DeKalb’s 150 schools will begin Sept. 20. Green said it would likely take the full school year to complete the process. 

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