Water tests show high levels of lead at elementary schools in Evanston and Skokie

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- A warning letter was sent out some parents in the north suburbs after water tests at 13 elementary schools in Skokie and Evanston showed potentially dangerous levels of lead.

As parents picked up their children outside Kingsley Elementary, conversations among some had shades of concern.

"I was disappointed. Maybe because I was hoping this was something we would have been more proactive about," said parent Meredith Rives.

According to a letter sent home to Kingsley parents last week, two classroom sinks at the school tested for high levels of lead. One of them had levels eight times higher than recommended.

"Most students just use them for handwashing, not drinking, so I didn't think it would be a big deal," said parent Lisa Downey.

"Certainly would like to see what measures are being taken to minimize it," said grandfather Richard Forst.

"I'd like this to be dealt with and expect testing to continue on a periodic basis so it keeps our kids safe," Rives said.

District 65 jumped into action immediately, shutting down every fixture that tested higher than recommended for lead.

According to the district website, high levels of lead aren't just lurking at Kingsley. Sixty-two water fixtures at 13 elementary schools including Dawes and Park also tested for high levels of lead. Now school administrators are working quickly to bring water fountains and sinks to safe levels for students.

"I don't think it was negligent, I think it was merely a function of not being on everyone's radar," Rives said.

A Evanston/Skokie School District 65 spokesperson told ABC7 Eyewitness News in part, "Any fixtures that tested over the recommended level by IDPH (5 parts per billion) were immediately shut down and will remain off until resolved. All fixtures will be retested to ensure samples meet the necessary guidelines. The district has already notified staff and families at each of these schools of the results. In addition, we are working alongside the Evanston Health and Human Services Department on mitigation strategies as well as to help ensure understanding across our community. In order to do so, we have provided a number of online resources and will be hosting an information session in conjunction with the health department next Wednesday."
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