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The School City of Hammond School Board held a meeting on Tuesday following reports of lead found in the schools' drinking water.

The School City of Hammond School Board had a heated public meeting on Tuesday following reports of lead found in the schools' drinking water.

Some teachers said this couldn't come at a worse time, with some Hammond classroom temperatures reaching in the 90s. Other audience members called for more details of the report.

In an email to staff on Thursday, Superintendent Walter Watkins said seven buildings, including six schools, registered lead levels above the recommended Environmental Protection Agency threshold when tested on Aug. 9-13.

"It was important we put together a sensible, and comprehensive, non-reactionary plan," Watkins said. "It's important we took the time to develop a plan to address this crisis."

The administrators handed out certain details of the test at the board meeting, indicating that a total of 52 water fountains and 28 sinks were taken out of service due to lead contamination levels.

Watkins said that two tests were done, the latter of which he hopes to receive results on Wednesday. He said once those results are in, he will publish them on the School City of Hammond website, and the administration will decide appropriate action.

Eight fountains and two sinks were effected at Columbia Elementary, seven fountains and four sinks at Franklin Elementary, four fountains and 12 sinks at Lafayette Elementary, one sink at Hammond High School, 21 fountains and six sinks at the Miller School facility, four fountains and one sink at Scott Middle School, one sink at Lincoln Elementary, two fountains and one sink at Morton High School, three fountains at Area Career Center and three fountains at Clark Middle/High School. Gavit Middle/High School was the only facility tested to not indicate lead levels above EPA recommendations.

The board did not order testing on buildings and schools that were built after 1986, or are not used for instructional purposes.

Watkins said he was originally told that the schools would be giving bottled water to students, however that turned out not to be the case.

"Later I found out we were not going to be giving out bottled water to kids," Watkins said. "That's not what we're recommending because we don't know at times what's in bottled water that you're allowing to enter schools."

However, some residents were not satisfied with the answers given to them Tuesday evening, calling for a full report of the first round of testing to be released to the public, including the name of the third-part agency that's doing the water quality tests.

Paul Buck Sr. said he has a grandchild in Hammond High School, and invited attendees to sign his petition to investigate the situation.

One teacher at Morton High School, Guadalupe Ramirez, said her students are suffering in the heat with little to no relief.

"I don't know how I'm supposed to look at them and tell them they're supposed to learn when my classroom is 92 degrees," Ramirez said at the meeting. "How can I deliver the student rights and staff rights during suspended curriculum, when it says they have the right to a safe environment that is conducive to learning, when it's 92 degrees in their classroom?"

Tiffany Ross, of Hammond, said she went to the administration building last week and formally requested the test results, as she is a parent of a child who will be going to a Hammond school next year.

"I haven't heard anything back, so clearly they're not giving that information out," Ross said. "They didn't have many answers."

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