HISD schools asked to provide bottled water during lead testing

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Group of HISD workers wants bottled water during lead testing.

With less than two weeks to go before the start of a new school year, a group of HISD workers has a big request --- provide bottled water for drinking at almost all of the district's schools.

Last month, Eyewitness News reported that HISD -- the largest district in Texas -- plans to test the water at all 283 schools for lead.

So far, only a handful of schools have been tested.

Many of HISD's schools were built well before the 1986 lead ban. Exposure to lead is a real threat, according to Orell Fitzsimmons.

"We want every child to have a chance at education, and if they're drinking lead-infested water, they're not having that opportunity," said Fitzsimmons, field director for Texas United Employees Union, Local 100.

Fitzsimmons represents more than 500 HISD support staff.

In June, he asked the school board to test the water at all HISD schools. Only five have been done.

Thursday, he plans to ask the district to supply bottled water at the remaining 278 schools until testing is complete.

"We need to be proactive instead of reactive. It's only the health of our children we're talking about," added Fitzsimmons.

In response, HISD told Eyewitness News "all HISD schools that were tested had acceptable water samples. There are no plans to use bottled water. HISD is working closely with the city of Houston and has not found any evidence to indicate the need for bottled water."

Plans to test the water came after the water crisis in Flint, Michigan was uncovered earlier this year. Thousands of children there have been exposed to lead.

HISD says lead testing will begin August 30.

Elementary schools will be tested first, followed by middle and high schools. All water fountains and one component in the kitchens will be tested.

In the meantime, Fitzsimmons said, "Don't drink the water until it's tested."

The five schools that have been tested are: Wharton Dual Language Academy, Hogg Middle School, Henderson Elementary School, Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men, and McReynolds Middle School.

HISD says all schools will be tested by the end of this upcoming school year.

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