Local schools forced to hire second crew to properly clean up lead dust

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by Lauren Trager / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 10:59 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 5 at 11:00 PM

(KMOV) -With the start of school just one week away, News 4 wanted to know if two St. Louis schools really are safe for students and teachers.

A News 4 investigation in July uncovered potentially poisonous lead paint in Roosevelt and Sumner high schools were improperly removed.

After the district learned what their contractor was doing, they got them to reverse course, then the district had to hire a whole other crew to make sure it was all properly cleaned up and safe for kids.

But those who have worked on the project say this is not safe for the students at these high schools.

“Lead dust all over the computers, everywhere,” said one painter, who asked to be anonymous.

"It's illegal, what they were doing is illegal,” he said.

The painter's union has documented proof of the lead levels from the district, with samples taken in June.

News 4 went to the district to find out what’s been done since.

“I take my responsibility very seriously that our buildings are safe so our students can learn and our teachers can teach,” said Roger CayCe with St. Louis Public Schools.

CayCe says they hired trained crews to undo the mess the contractor made by cleaning surfaces kids could touch with special washes and machines.

Recently, hundreds of lead tests came back negative.

"Should parents, teachers and staff be concerned about their safety inside these buildings?” asked Reporter Lauren Trager.  “No, not at all, and we will test them all and the records are open for anyone to see or review,” CayCe said.

Experts say it's unlikely the dust is in the ventilation since it's so heavy it would settle to the floor.

But painter's like these aren't so sure. They wish it hadn't happened in the first place.

“I just hope it stops here; maybe someone needs to keep a better eye on these schools being done," said the painter.

The district says they'll make the original contractor pay the extra clean-up costs, not the taxpayers.

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