CHICAGO (CBS) — Parents in Glenview are frustrated and confused after they got an email a few days ago stating that their children’s day care and learning center found lead in the water late last year.
In the letter, the Open Arms Childhood Development Center said it found elevated lead levels in December 2018, but parents who asked to stay anonymous tell CBS 2 the school did not give them any notice until a June 14 email.
The email stated the day care, which is run by the Immanuel Lutheran Church, tested for lead in November of 2018 to comply with a state mandate. On Dec. 4, it learned of three water sources with elevated lead levels in the basement and shut them down, but parents say they are concerned about kids who may have drunk the water from the basement sink before that.
“We failed to communicate,” Rev. David Barber of Open Arms and Immanuel Lutheran said Wednesday. “We did not notify parents specifically after the testing.”
Barber would not take many questions, eventually walking away from a CBS 2 reporter.
His letter said the staff mistakenly assumed all students drank milk or a milk substitute and they recently learned two students drank water every day.
Referring to the basement sinks, the letter said, “We know there were times those taps were used for lunch.”
He encouraged parents of kids who may have drank water to “have your child’s lead level tested. We will cover any and all expenses.”
The letter said the lead results were posted on a school bulletin board. And the Illinois Department of Children and Family services found a posting about the incident on a board on May 14, during an announced visit in response to a complaint, according to a DCFS spokesperson.
Former Open Arms teacher Brianna Rice said she never saw that bulletin.
“I was actively looking for it,” she said.
Rice said the staff did get an email about the results in early December.
She forwarded CBS 2 an email conversation showing that she replied the same day, voicing concerns about the kids who drink water for lunch. Rice also had a son in the program.
The email shows she asked a church administrator, “Do you think I or the other parents should be concerned about the children that drink water at lunch? I am assuming they fill the water pitchers up from the kitchen sinks but I could be wrong.”
The director responded that they were no longer using the affected sinks, but Rice says that did not ease her concerns about kids who had already drunk the water.
Rice said she does not know why, but her contract was not renewed for next school year.
The letter to parents said, while students may have drunk the water, it was never used to prepare food. The letter also stated that the school tested 65 other sources in the building and found them to be safe.