Parent Urges School District
To "Get The Lead Out"
Come Clean and Tell The Facts
About Lead Poisoning In The Schools

The Spring Branch School District wants to “get the lead out” and has filed a lawsuit to do so.

The district has filed a lawsuit claiming that classrooms and buildings have been contaminated by lead, exposing students and teachers to a “substantial risk of lead poisoning.” Named in the lawsuit are several former makers of lead-based paint and pigments.

As a parent of a Spring Branch student, I was naturally quite concerned to find this out. Although I read in the local newspaper that the lawsuit had been filed, the school district has never notified me, as a parent, of the presence of any health or safety risks related to lead.

No cautionary notes have been sent home with my children. No alarming studies have been released discussing the severity of the problem in our schools. Nowhere has the school district said “these are the tests we have done and this is what the tests have revealed” They have been totally mum on the issue, except apparently for their demand of huge sums of money from the lawsuit. Parents have not even been notified of the suit itself—we had to read about it in the newspapers.

Moreover, never has the Spring Branch School District identified individual students who have contracted lead poisoning in the schools or stated which schools they believe pose the greatest risk. Never, has the school district announced a maintenance program to repaint chipped and flaky paint and minimize the risk of lead-based dust. Never has lead paint abatement been mentioned in any of the district’s facilities improvement studies.

The existence of the lawsuit and the corresponding lack of communication with the parents is alarming.

Now comes the really troubling part. Ron Scott, a lawyer for the school district, is quoted in a Houston Chronicle article as saying: “This isn’t a panic issue. People don’t need to feel their schools are unsafe.”

Duncan Klussmann, a district administrator told me, “Your child is not at risk.” These are the very same people who signed onto a lawsuit that says there is a “substantial risk of lead poisoning.”

What are we to believe? District officials are telling parents their schools are safe but their lawsuit demands millions of dollars for addressing a dangerous situation caused by lead paint. Both cannot be true.

Some of the Spring Branch school’s were built in the 1950’s and others in the 1960’s. It is logical to presume that lead-based paint was used on some of the campuses before it was removed from the market, forty or more years ago. It is also logical to presume that the district repaints its schools from time to time and may have painted over any exposed lead-based paint.

The Federal Government does not require the removal of lead paint from buildings. In fact, it recommends against removal because removal can cause a hazard. According to Kathy Barton, a spokesperson for the City of Houston’s Health and Human Services Department, lead paint “becomes a health hazard only when a non-lead coat wears away, and lead paint falls in chips or dust form.

Hopefully, the Spring Branch School District has a set schedule for identifying peeling and chipped paint, and they are painting over the potential hazard.

The Spring Branch School District wants to get the lead out? Fine! They can begin by coming clean with the parents.

If the schools are safe why are they filing a lawsuit? If the schools are unsafe what is the immediate health hazard to our children? I have entrusted my children to school officials. They have either put kids at risk and have been dishonest to parents, or they are being dishonest in their lawsuit in an effort to get money they do not deserve. Either way, they have left my wife and I, and thousands of parents in the dark.

It is time that the district came clean and told us the facts.

Related Links:
District: Lead-paint concerns in check

Opelt is the Executive Director of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and is the parent of a senior at Memorial High School in the Spring Branch School District.

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

2500 City West Boulevard, Suite 300 • Houston, Texas 77042
E-mail: sosueme@ • Administrative: (713) 267-2302 • Fax: (713) 267-2267