Parents upset after high lead levels detected at 12 CPS schools

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Elevated lead levels were detected in 12 CPS schools. (WLS)

Elevated lead levels have been detected in a dozen Chicago Public Schools and parents are not happy.

Last month, CPS said it planned to expand its lead testing program after it found elevated levels at Tanner Elementary School.

So far, CPS says 156 of the 324 schools built before 1986 with pre-K programs have been tested.

Results at 58 schools have been returned. The district is still waiting on results from hundreds of others.

On Wednesday, CPS released a list of the 12 schools that had at least one water fountain or fixture with lead levels above the EPA action level of more than 15 ppb:
Beidler (1 sink)
Brentano (1 drinking fountain and 1 sink for handwashing in kitchen)
Budlong (1 sink)
Esmond (1 drinking fountain)
Fernwood (2 drinking fountains)
Harvard (1 drinking fountain)
LaSalle II (1 sink)
Locke J (1 sink)
Peirce (1 drinking fountain)
Perez (1 drinking fountain)
Reilly (being retested)
Tanner (4 drinking fountains)

A CPS spokesperson said in each of the schools, only one or two fixtures showed results above the action level and those fixtures have been turned off.

The district is already taking proactive steps to make sure children's drinking water is safe across all schools.

"Even if it's one school, one fountain, we want to correct it," said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool last month.

On Thursday, most, if not all students at Reilly Elementary had water bottles in their backpacks that they brought from home.

Patricia Gutierrez said she knew something was wrong with the water at Reilly Elementary School when her fifth grade daughter came home last week and told her, "The water was coming out yellow and a teacher told them don't drink the water because it was contaminated."

The district said letters were immediately sent home with information about nearby medical resources where students can get checked out. Parents are not thrilled.

"Now these kids have gotta be tested for the lead problem and my daughter, now she has to carry water to school until they get it fixed," said parent Robert Marshall.

In fact nearly every child ABC7 spoke to at Reilly was carrying water from home. CPS said any faucet or water fountain that showed high lead levels has been turned off.

Higher than normal levels of lead in water is especially bad for kids and has been linked to stunted growth, and learning disabilities.

A spokesman with the Chicago Department of Health said, "We are assisting CPS's testing efforts. We are part of the team."

A spokesman for the Chicago Water Department said regarding the CPS lead levels, "They have their own program; early on we advised them how to do our program, but they developed their own."

More information is available at

Related Topics:
educationeducationhealthchicago public schoolsleadChicago - Downtown
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