New documents from VB schools show timeline of notifying public about lead levels in water

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been a few weeks since Virginia Beach City Public Schools told people about elevated lead levels in water at some schools.

Could that information have come out sooner? 10 On Your Side went digging through some of the documents surrounding the school’s water testing to find out. The documents were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents show emails between school board members and Superintendent Aaron Spence, as well as emails from parents.

The documents also show lead testing results started coming in mid-September. Spence and Jack Freeman, the school division’s chief operations officer, learned of the elevated levels of lead on Oct. 25.

School officials alerted the Virginia Department of Health three days later.

The public — and the school board — were not notified until Nov. 6.

One of the parents who emailed the school board said she would’ve liked to have been notified sooner.

“I do wish that the situation was handled a little different where it was more of a transparent process, that the information was released at the same time, you know the numbers, everything,” parent Lindsey Nathaniel said.

School officials said the delay happened because they wanted to prioritize securing the water sites and making sure students didn’t have access to them.

The documents uncovered through 10 On Your Side’s Freedom of Information Act request also lay out which specific sites had lead, and what those levels were before and after testing.

That information is something Nathaniel wishes was easier to find — she had to call the hotline to get it and said, even then, it was confusing.

“I feel like the information should’ve come out all at once. I didn’t like having to call to find out how much exposure my kid potentially could have had,” said Nathaniel. “I felt like that should’ve been released to us at the same time, or we shouldn’t have had to hunt around for it.”

The documents show most of the water sources with issues were sinks and fountains.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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