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Newark School Parents Accuse Officials of Tainted Water 'Cover Up'

Jun 13, 2016

Parents of Newark students claim their children are being "poisoned" and gastrointestinal and cognitive health problems have arisen as a result of tainted water. A class-action lawsuit has been proposed accusing the district, city, and state officials of knowingly exposing thousands of students to toxic levels of lead found in the water in four Newark Public Schools, according to Business Insider.

In March 2016, the Department of Environmental Protocols revealed test results, but the parents' suit claims the elevated lead level has been known since March 2011 and is ongoing to the present day. The proposed lawsuit claims the district made a conscious decision to conceal the raised lead levels in the Newark Schools water supply and named New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and School Superintendent Chris Cerf as involved in the 'cover up.'

The suit also alleges that the defendants "haphazardly and secretively installed filters" into some water sources to fight the problem, but adequate maintenance was not provided by the district.

"The Defendants intentionally failed to change the filters for years despite the requirements that these filters be changed every six months," according to the suit. The district left some filters unchanged for "more than five years after they expired," the complaint said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no level of lead in the blood is considered safe. Exposure to raised levels can cause a variety of serious health issues especially in children and pregnant women.

The lawsuit has not yet been served to the district, but it's "working to communicate with the community," said Dreena Whitfield, a spokesperson for Newark Public Schools, in a statement to Business Insider.

The parents are seeking a jury trial with this suit, compensation for damages, and the establishment of a medical fund as well as the appointment of a monitor to oversee water operations in Newark Schools, according to Business Insider.

Flint, Michigan, and Sebring, Ohio are now joined by New Jersey in a toxic lead water crisis.

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