Downplaying bad news

Two water fountains at Willis Elementary School tested postive for lead contamination recently and the school and administration tried to downplay the seriousness of the situation.

Reports The Roanoke Times:

Water in two Willis Elementary School fountains tested outside of regular limits for lead contamination in October.

School officials did send out at least one notification of the problem, but the announcement was on pages 9 and 10 of the school's regular newsletter, sent home with children Monday, the date the November issue was distributed.

Pages 9 and 10? Such news should have been on Page 1 and probably merited a special alert to parents. One mother said she hadn't read the newsletter yet and didn't know about the problem until the newspaper contacted her.

The Times also had problems reaching someone in charge, reporting:

Willis Elementary School Principal Sandra Montgomery and Floyd County Schools Superintendent Terry Arbogast were not in their offices Thursday or Friday, according to their office assistants, and could not be reached to comment on the report. A school employee did promptly fax a copy of the newsletter to The Roanoke Times on Thursday.

The newsletter couched the problem in typcial bureacratic language, saying:

Two water fountains tested high for lead concentration. The results were 20.3 ppb and 57.5 ppb. Upon receipt of the results, these two fountains were immediately removed from service.

Floyd County parents have a right to expect more candor from their schools and the school administration. This is not the first time we've caught them trying to gloss over bad news and such behavior needs to stop. Spending for the school system is a primary reason why the county is in severe financial trouble right now and a school system that strains the county budget should, and must, be more accountable.

Two water fountains at Willis Elementary School tested postive for lead contamination recently and the school and administration tried to downplay the seriousness of the situation.

Reports The Roanoke Times:

Water in two Willis Elementary School fountains tested outside of regular limits for lead contamination in October.

School officials did send out at least one notification of the problem, but the announcement was on pages 9 and 10 of the school’s regular newsletter, sent home with children Monday, the date the November issue was distributed.

Pages 9 and 10? Such news should have been on Page 1 and probably merited a special alert to parents. One mother said she hadn’t read the newsletter yet and didn’t know about the problem until the newspaper contacted her.

The Times also had problems reaching someone in charge, reporting:

Willis Elementary School Principal Sandra Montgomery and Floyd County Schools Superintendent Terry Arbogast were not in their offices Thursday or Friday, according to their office assistants, and could not be reached to comment on the report. A school employee did promptly fax a copy of the newsletter to The Roanoke Times on Thursday.

The newsletter couched the problem in typcial bureacratic language, saying:

Two water fountains tested high for lead concentration. The results were 20.3 ppb and 57.5 ppb. Upon receipt of the results, these two fountains were immediately removed from service.

Floyd County parents have a right to expect more candor from their schools and the school administration. This is not the first time we’ve caught them trying to gloss over bad news and such behavior needs to stop. Spending for the school system is a primary reason why the county is in severe financial trouble right now and a school system that strains the county budget should, and must, be more accountable.

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3 Responses

  1. Excuse me? LEAD!? My kids go to Willis Elementary, and I typically try to read the newsletter….but this should have been noted in information sent home with the parents IMMEDIATELY! They should have informed parents about possible signs and symptoms of lead poisoning and suggested that any parent who knew their child regularly drank from either fountain should be lead tested just in case.

    I’m horrified that this was BURIED in a newsletter. Thank you for keeping us in the know here in Floyd County. Apparently, we can no longer believe in those who are entrusted to care for and educate our children.

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