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Andrew D'Arcy
Andrew D'Arcy
Attorney • (609) 641-6200


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With every public school in New Jersey under orders to test for lead in their water supplies following the discovery of elevated levels in several Newark school facilities earlier this year, school districts across the state now face potential litigation. The Business Insider has reported that parents of four Newark Public School students have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming the district and other city and state officials “poisoned” thousand of students by deliberately exposing them to toxic levels of lead from March 2011 to the present, which caused gastrointestinal – and cognitive-health problems.  The complaint alleges the district made a conscious decision to conceal the elevated lead levels present in schools’ water supplies even after the information became public in March 2016 after testing from the Department of Environmental Protocols.

Attorney Joel Silberman says the lawsuit against Newark’s public schools seeks class-action status and was filed in federal court last week.  The suit claims water filters installed in the schools were supposed to be replaced twice a year but that district officials failed to do so.  The suit seeks appointment of a monitor to oversee the school district’s water operations, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

The district shut off water fountains at half of its buildings in March because of elevated lead levels.  Blood tests were also offered to 17,000 students at those schools for lead.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no level of lead in the blood is considered safe.  Exposure to high enough levels can cause an array of serious health issues in children and pregnant women.

Newark schools spokeswoman Dreena Whitfield is quoted as saying “At Newark Public Schools, the health and safety of our students and staff is our highest priority.  That is why we have taken proactive measures to share water quality results broadly with the public; to engage experts to create a new baseline for water quality in our schools; and to go beyond efforts taken in the past to solve this historic issue once and for all.”