Monday, May 22, 2017

Black Millennials for Flint: Official Testimony DC Council and Board of Education: Lead in Public Facilities

Black Millennials for Flint’s Official TestimonyDC Council Hearing: Lead in Public Facilities

June 22, 2016
Re: Lead Testing in Public Facilities
LaTricea Adams—President/Founder Black Millennials for Flint
Greetings Chairperson Grosso, Chairperson Cheh and other distinguished committee members.  I want to thank you for this opportunity to address Lead Testing in Public Facilities.
My name is LaTricea Adams, President and Founder of Black Millennials for Flint, a grassroots, environmental advocacy group with special interests in diminishing the occurrences of lead exposure.  
We are very concerned with the recent emergence of elevated lead levels that have surfaced at our schools in the District.  We come before you today to present viable solutions to ensure ALL of our children in the District of Columbia regardless of their neighborhood or socioeconomic status, have access to lead free drinking water in their schools.
We propose the following solutions:  
Fully accessible and comprehensive Water Sample Results
DC has an extremely diverse population of children and families from all parts of the world speaking many different languages representative of their respective native countries.  The water sample results presented on the Department of General Services website does not provide translated versions of the water sample results.  It is imperative that the water sample reports are translated for all the respective native languages of families who speak English as a second language and made available online just as the English versions.
Provide a detailed, public, and actionable timeline of remaining schools to be tested as well as transparency with re-testing statuses for schools with remediation plans for water sources exceeding the EPA recommended limit.
Develop a more user friendly, data visualization tool to present data results to the public outside of the tables provided in the current pdf files
Compare data between schools to assess the equity in the progress of deescalating the presence lead in drinking water
Establish parent and community meetings (not to exceed 48 hours after written communication has been distributed) after schools have been flagged as having water sources with elevated lead levels (this in addition to written communication sent home by students or posted online)
There should also be translators available to provide an equitable opportunity to engage parents who speak English as a second language.  
Rigid Criteria for Remediation Strategies
Provide detailed information regarding the research-based quality of filters used
Provide immediate (not to exceed 48 hours) results of the quality of filtered water
Provide transparency regarding the source of the lead contamination included in the report (e.g. Determine if pipes from contaminated water sources are corrosive and may be contributing to the potential elevated lead levels)
Alternative Clean Water Accessibility
Provide water coolers (with paper cups to remain “green”) in areas in schools where water fountains are inaccessible
Thank you for your attention to this important issue and your commitment to the health and access to lead free water for all of our children in the District of Columbia.

Black Millennials for Flint’s District of Columbia State Board of Education Public Meeting Statement: 

Post-Lead Poisoning Treatment for DC Students

July 20, 2016
Re: Post-Lead Poisoning Treatment for DC Students
LaTricea Adams—President/Founder Black Millennials for Flint
Greetings DC Stateboard members.  I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak with you this evening regarding next steps regarding potential lead exposure of our children in the district.  
My name is LaTricea Adams, President and Founder of Black Millennials for Flint, a grassroots, environmental advocacy group with special interests in diminishing the occurrences of lead exposure.  
DC is no stranger to issues with water quality.  Between 2001-2004, DC water had startling lead levels when the Washington Aqueduct, which supplies city water, changed its treatment chemical from chlorine to chloramine which in turn caused pipes to corrode, allowing lead to leach from the city’s older pipes into the water supply. We are heartbroken that 15 years later the issue has emerged once again—putting our children at risk of an array of critical health issues.  
Lead is particularly dangerous for children under the age of 6 (but a health risk for all despite age). Exposure to high lead levels in a short period of time is called acute toxicity. Exposure to small amounts of lead over a long period of time is called chronic toxicity.
Lead poisoning can lead to a variety of health problems in children, including:
  • decreased bone and muscle growth
  • poor muscle coordination
  • damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and/or hearing
  • speech and language problems
  • developmental delay
  • seizures and unconsciousness (in cases of extremely high lead levels)
While we are champions in support of the recent bill proposed by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh in which the Washington City Papers quotes her as stating:
“In order to maintain their certifications, the facilities would have to demonstrate to the District proof of compliance. Lead tests would be required annually; the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, which oversees child development facilities, would manage a new fund to help sites install filters if it were to pose "an undue financial hardship.”
“Children in the District of Columbia deserve access to safe, clean drinking water, and it is time for the government to adopt a proactive, rather than reactive, strategy towards lead control in our public water sources,” Cheh said in a statement. “To ensure immediate communication with parents and community members"—a lack of which D.C. officials acknowledged when the lead levels came to light—"test results must be posted within five business days. With these new regulations, we are not only setting a national standard but are remedying previous shortcomings in protecting District children.”
The part of Councilwoman Cheh’s statement that resonates with us the most this evening is “…remedying shortcomings in protecting District children.” What resources, programs, and the like will be provided to children who may have already been substantially exposed to lead?  According to a statement from a licensed pediatrician at the June 2016 DC Council Public Hearing regarding Lead in Public Facilities, depending on the length of time of initial exposure to lead and the actual lead screening, the test may not adequately demonstrate an accurate lead toxicity level due to lead being absorbed in the bones.  What policies are in place or are being discussed to ensure that the District is doing their due diligence to ensure ALL children have been properly evaluated (not just with a routine screening) and that proper recourse is taken? How is the State Board of Education been working in tangent with DC Council to ensure that any recommendations for policy addresses the whole child?  Though research supports that lead exposure is not reversible, there are several actions that can prevent some of the major side effects of lead exposure/poisoning.  
We are asking for support from the DC State Board of Education to consider the following recommendations for policy regarding post-lead poisoning treatment for any child in the District (including the span of students covered under IDEA):  
  • Encourage a school lunch regimen for all LEAs (including DCPS and Charters) to include foods that are rich in the nutrients which fight lead poisoning
  • Encourage LEAs to provide additional wraparound services specifically for families with students diagnosed with development delay (limited to students under the age of 7), emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, or other specific learning disabilities (or students with a 504 plan that outlines health conditions that trace back to lead poisoning) [the aforementioned diagnoses are most commonly effects of lead poisoning]
  • Collect and closely monitor the proportionality of suspensions (and expulsions) of students within the aforementioned special population in comparison to the general population for all DCPS and DC Public Charter Schools
  • Work closely with DC Council, the Office of the State Superintendent, and if possible, the DC Department of General Services to ensure there is alignment in recommendations for policy as well as congruency in communication to parents and families
  • Potentially amend the current LEA Report Card criteria to include aspects outlined in DC Councilwoman Cheh’s prospective bill to assess each LEA’s progress and commitment to addressing both preventative and restorative actions in regards to lead exposure
Thank you for your attention to this important issue and your commitment to the health and access to lead free water for all of our children in the District of Columbia.
LaTricea Adams, MAT, EdS
Black Millennials for Flint

Please learn more about Black Millennials for Flint
Black Millennials For Flint (#BM4F) is a grassroots,
environmental justice and civil rights organization with the purpose of bringing like-minded organizations
together to collectively take action and advocate against the crisis of lead exposure specifically in
African American & Latino communities throughout the nation.

Read the official letter they submitted with the Sierra Club to DC Council  

Check out the following links from their testimony before DC Council & DC State Board of Education

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