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Parents in Scranton School District Concerned Over Lead, Asbestos Found in Schools

SCRANTON, Pa. — Parents in the Scranton School District are voicing their anger and concerns after learning asbestos and unsafe levels of lead have turned...

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Parents in the Scranton School District are voicing their anger and concerns after learning asbestos and unsafe levels of lead have turned up in several city schools.

It is not the first time that type of contamination had been found in district buildings.

The school board says preliminary water tests were given to school officials on January 9.

This is unsettling for those waiting for their children outside West Scranton Intermediate.

“Oh, I wouldn't want my grandson drinking water with lead in it,” said grandparent Don Sherman.

This isn't the first time lead was found in Scranton's schools.

In a news conference in 2016, officials announced voluntary district-wide testing found lead contamination in sinks and water fountains in Prescott Elementary and West Scranton Intermediate.

Back in 2016, school officials said the lead contamination would be fixed over the summer break. Now, it’s unclear if that ever happened.

Bob Sheridan was the board president in 2016. He says the cleanup took place.

“We immediately took them out of service, they did a complete re-testing again afterward, and the water came back normal,” said Sheridan. “We did everything in our power to make sure that the school's water system was safe.”

After mandatory testing became a state law in 2018, the engineer who tested in 2016 tells Newswatch 16 he retested for lead that year and in 2019 and for asbestos in 2019.

Now, the state attorney general's office is investigating possible corruption after these latest results.

The engineer says he was interviewed by state police on behalf of the state attorney general's office.

“You got little kids going in here, not to mention the elementary schools,” said grandfather Don Muracco. “I hope they get the proper environmental people to check it out and clean it the proper way.”

“When was the school built? In the '70s? Probably got lead pipes,” said Sherman.

“I know when we did the orientation, a lot of the water fountains were closed. You couldn't drink out of the water fountains,” said parent Janice Rowlands. “It makes me scared because it's crazy how they are doing this, and they are letting it go.”

In a statement from the school board president, Katie Gilmartin wrote:

"Despite frustration and disappointment in realizing previous results may not have been acknowledged and addressed in this same manner, we are confident that the safety of our students and staff is the utmost priority.”