Heated meeting between parents, school officials in Newark over water lead levels

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Parents and students were enraged both outside and inside Wednesday night's school board meeting in Newark, many looking for answers about the district's water quality issue.

"You don't care!" one person shouted.

"We demand accountability," another said.

It was all in response to elevated lead levels found in some schools. Free blood tests are available for some 17,000 children at the 30 affected schools.

Some feel leaders past and present failed their children.

"I kept my kids home since Wednesday until yesterday. And I'm still having reservations as of today because it's still not safe to send them to school," said Gwendolyn Booker, a parent.

"I think it's unfair that we have to drink dirty water, where kids get sick," said Antonasa Brown, a student.

Last week, Newark Public Schools temporarily shut down all water fountains.

Bottled water and water coolers were provided.

The plan now is to test every faucet, fountain and food preparation sink at all 67 schools in the district.

"Lead, led to all kinds of learning disabilities, it leads to cancer, leukemia, etc. You're very concerned about the health of our children," said Donna, a parent.

Trying to avoid a panic, the superintendent explained anything over 15 parts per billion is a red flag.

Most schools came in around 100 with one at 558.

The crisis in Flint, Michigan, hit an astonishing 13,000 parts per billion.

"I absolutely believe this is a matter of urgency. The community is entitled to know everything," said Christopher Cerf, the Newark Schools Superintendent.
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