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Activists Call For More Transparency On School Water Testing

Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center

Local NAACP officials, parents and other activists will hold a press conference in front of the Government Center Tuesday to express their concerns about how Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials are dealing with the issue of lead found in drinking water at many schools.

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn / WFAE
Charlotte NAACP President Corine Mack

NAACP president Corrine Mack said she will voice her concerns — along with other activists, parents and some teachers — just before the school board is scheduled to hold a work session.

CMS officials voluntarily tested 58 schools last fall, and lead was found in water at 27 schools. Some, such as the University Park Creative Arts School, had as many as five fixtures with high levels of lead. Those results were available in March, but were not released to the public until reports about the testing appeared in the media this summer.

Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said all fixtures with high lead levels were replaced or shut off. He said the lead levels were not found to be harmful. But officials with the Centers for Disease Control say there is no safe blood level of lead, and that even low levels of lead in the blood can affect IQ, attention span and academic achievement. Exposure is especially dangerous for young children who are still developing.

NAACP officials said the lead testing process needs to be more transparent. Wilcox said the school system will be more forthcoming with information as the second round of lead tests begin on Sept. 24 at middle and high schools built before 1989. That round of testing will  conclude in early November. 

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.