CMS parents claim district is keeping them in the dark about lead in the water

CMS addresses parents upset about lead found in water

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - More questions than answers from Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) parents concerning the way CMS handled lead found in water at several schools.

Sherika Kemp has a child at University Park Creative Arts School. That school was one that tested positive for lead. CMS says the problem was fixed and lead found was of no harm to students, but Kemp still had questions.

"We were being told that change was made," CMS Parent Sherika Kemp said. "They came out and did this and that and a third, but I wanted to know for myself."

Kemp says she took a sample from her child's school water fountain a few days ago to get some answers. The water was discolored after CMS says the problem was fixed.

"It’s disheartening. Very disheartening - we are parents who send our kids to get an education - not to get poisoned,” Kemp said.

CMS says water at University Park Creative Arts School was shut off. When the water was turned back on sediment was present and the water had to flow to get clear.

"I hope that concern has been met and if not - we will go back at it,” CMS Chief Communications Officer Tracy Russ said.

Parents have another concern. Tuesday evening right before the CMS school board meeting, a coalition of concerned parents and community organizations held a press conference concerning lead in the water.

They claim CMS kept parents in the dark about which water fountains in the schools had lead. CMS has a water report on each school on its website, but what’s missing is telling parents which water fountain in the school had the issue.

"To this day you or I cannot know based on the information that has been released whether our children drank from those lead sources or not,” Coalition Member Brian Kasher said.

CMS says in order to release the information in the report, the school district had to release a blueprint of each school to indicate where each troubled water fountain was located. CMS says it was too dangerous to make those blueprints public.

"God forbid something should happen. Someone intends harm to have that information available,” Russ said.

Russ says if parents want to know which water fountains had a problem, the principal will be able to reveal that information. CMS admits it should have communicated that with parents earlier and says a lesson has been learned going forward with other school water testing.

"We are going to make sure we are doing a better job of communicating what was tested. Where it was - what the results were and what the action was in plain language,” Russ said.

The coalition still wants answers. It will hold a hearing to discuss CMS taking the parents right to know away. The group will assess patterns of CMS witholding information and not being forthright with information especially when talking about the environment concerns.

"That’s why we are working as a coalition to assist the Board of Education as our neighbors and as our friends - to do what’s right for the community and force transparency and accountability in senior executive staff,” Kasher said.

The hearing will take place on Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. at Little Rock AME Zion Church at 401 N. McDowell St. Charlotte, NC.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.