Detroit schools water: Tensions reach boiling point during board meeting

Parents share concerns about water in Detroit Public Schools Community District


DETROIT – Tensions reached a boiling point Tuesday during the first board meeting since contaminated water was found at the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

The elevated levels of copper and lead in water are showing up at more schools as test results come back.

Community members were frustrated by how the situation got to this point.

"We need funds for our schools," one resident said. "We need a real solution to this problem, not a Band-Aid."

"This is serious business," another resident said. "We don't have time to do all the things you guys are talking about."

Board president Iris Taylor was quick to remind people the testing was done by their request, even though testing is not required.

That was in 2016. Two years later, elevated levels of lead and copper remain.

"The majority of water sources are safe, but we've learned from 2016 to present that new water sources have surfaced as concerning," Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said.

Vitti originally said he believed the water problem centered around schools with poor infrastructure that were older, but now that theory has been disproved.

"Some are new with elevated levels," Vitti said. "Some are older."

Many parents are questioning how the elevated lead and copper levels are in the new buildings.

Vitti admitted the price to fix the problem is tens of millions of dollars, which is money the district doesn't have.

"It doesn't mention this was done under the emergency manager transition team of 2016," longtime board member Lamar Lemmons said.

Vitti wants to install hydration stations that will filter out any contaminants in the water. It's a $2 million temporary fix.

"This would cost the district -- for equipment and labor to install -- roughly $2 million," Vitti said. "The solution would be to have a hydration station for every 100 students in the building."

Parents are insisting it's time to take action.

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