No further testing planned at Guilford County Schools after lead found in water

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Alice McCall teaches science at a high school in Guilford County.

She saw FOX8 On Your Side’s story about high lead levels in the water at three Guilford County schools and told us she thinks more testing across the school district is needed.

McCall said, “A little more methodology in the testing should be warranted, maybe not just one sink, maybe the water fountains on a systematic basis, not just one time?”

The voluntary water testing at GCS included a single sample from one faucet at each school.

The EPA recommends testing samples from water fountains, cafeteria sinks, the nurse’s office and other conspicuous faucets where a student might drink the water.

What did the tests find?

Three schools had faucets that were leeching lead into the water.

Southeast Middle School measured 194 parts per billion. The EPA says that number should be under 20 ppb.

The measurements at Frazier Elementary showed 45 ppb and Allen Jay Elementary measured 19.7 ppb.

The school system replaced those three faucets, one at each school. An additional water test showed that solved the problem.

But McCall asks what about the rest of the faucets?

“You have to fully investigate and if you have questions," McCall said. "You should seek answers to the questions.”

FOX8 took those questions to GCS Chief Operations Officer Scott McCully. He told us that the school system does not have plans to do any further water testing.

Ten states and Washington, D.C., require or provide incentives for water testing in schools, but North Carolina is not one of them. That’s why GCS can choose not to do this testing.

We brought this to the attention of the State Superintendent, Mark Johnson.

He told us, “I do think it’s something we should look at, but again until that is actually required by state law there’s nothing that stops local school districts from taking those steps.”

Nothing to stop them, but nothing to force them either.

McCall asked FOX8, “Really children’s safety should be the requirement, shouldn’t it?”

Alice McCall’s children attended Southeast Middle school where those highest levels of lead were found. They are now grown, but this mother wants her kids to get tested for lead exposure.

FOX8 was the first to tell parents about the lead found in water at Guilford County Schools. The district knew about the problem in March.

They replaced the faucets and retested the water March 14th and 23rd but did not tell the parents until July 26th, the same night our story aired.

That was four months after the testing.

FOX8 is talking to those parents and taking their concerns to lawmakers.

NC House Bill 825 would have made this water testing a requirement, but it died in committee.

We are calling and interviewing state representatives to find out if they support bringing it back.