CPS tells parents cause of lead at school still unknown

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Parents at Tanner Elementary attended a meeting with Chicago Public Schools after lead was detected in the water supply. (WLS)

At a meeting Tuesday afternoon, Chicago Public School officials told parents they still don't know the cause of high lead levels in the water at Tanner Elementary in the Park Manor neighborhood.

Students left Tanner Elementary Tuesday afternoon with bottled water in hand ever since Chicago Public Schools found high levels of lead in some of the school's drinking fountains and kitchen. Students have been drinking water brought in from the outside.
Parents hoped CPS CEO Forrest Claypool would address their concerns at the mandatory parent meeting.
"My son, he does drink the water of course and he has been having problems with his learning, so I'm wondering if it's because of the lead that's in the water," said parent Ericka Jones.

Jones has already had her son tested and is waiting for the results. While there are no plans for CPS to pay for the testing, some parents say they would rather get their children tested on their own sooner than later.

"I don't really want to what for all that red tape and all that," said parent Shawn McEwan. "I would rather go do it myself just to be caught up a lot sooner than to wait because if something is wrong with my child or anybody else's child, us waiting on the city to pay for it is not going to help the child," said parent Shawn McEwan.

Lead was discovered at Tanner after CPS tested 32 schools as part of a pilot testing program. Following the results, CPS announced it would test all of its public schools. However, at a news conference last Friday, the city's health commissioner said if your child tests positive, there is a chance the school may not the source.

"In the City of Chicago, the primary source of lead poisoning is really most often related to lead-based paint, not the water," said City of Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita. "We don't want to just assume that it's from the school."

Regardless, parents are concerned and so are neighbors who live near Tanner.

Eugene Murphy is not taking any chances. He has bought cases of bottled water.

"We are concerned," Murphy said. "If it affects them it affects us. We're right across the street."

CPS announced at the meeting that there will be a mobile health unit at the school next Tuesday and Wednesday to test kids.

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