WASHINGTON - Dozens of D.C. students were tested for lead exposure Wednesday after elevated lead levels were discovered in drinking water at a dozen schools. Parents said the worst part is that those high levels were found eight months ago and they are only finding out now.
The District's Department of General Services performed the tests, but a spokesperson said an inadvertent "mistake" occurred and D.C. Public Schools was not notified of the findings. In some cases, protocol wasn't followed to correct the elevated lead levels right away and students may have continued to drink the water.
"The fact that there is lead, that is disappointing," said Robert St. Cyr, who brought his daughter to be tested. "The fact that they didn't report it or be clear about it, that concerns me. Because then you have to wonder, ‘What else is there?’"
Department of General Services spokesperson Kenny Diggs said what happened is prompting change.
"We are reviewing protocol and putting new communication protocol in place," he said.
Diggs said the lead levels found were not considered dangerous, but were high enough that the water supply should have been shut off, filters installed and the water retested. District officials have admitted that in some cases, protocol was not followed.
D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment told FOX 5 that there was nothing of concern found during the student testing Wednesday. The tests required a finger prick and results came back within minutes.
Parents said they are planning meetings with the Department of General Services and other District agencies to make sure this does not happen again.
"Our goal is to really just help DCPS and DGS work more smoothly for our whole school system," said mother Christine Klein. "Make sure that all schools are safe for our children. That is not a lot to ask. If something arises that is wrong, tell the parents."
Department of General Services said it will begin testing water in every D.C. school on Thursday, a process expected to be done by June. The department will post findings online for each school, and will be testing all water that could be consumed – not just drinking fountains like in the past.