Friday, June 16, 2017


When Heather Saslovsky saw the email from Superintendent John Ramos that lead had been found in nine drinking water sources from five district schools, she was as concerned as any parent who received the district-wide notice Monday.

But when she saw the most toxic findings -- 10 times higher than any other source --  were from a drinking fountain outside Room 105 at Seth Boyden School, the real fears took hold.

The list of the other eight drinking water sources above the 15ppb (parts per billion) safe lead level included those ranging from 15.3 ppb at Underhill Field to 46.8 ppb in the Maplewood Middle School teacher's lounge.

But the Seth Boyden fountain stood out at a whopping 444 ppb.

Heather was certain that was the fountain for the classroom of her seven-year-old son, Ethan. A quick email to the teacher and it was confirmed.

"I learned the 444 water fountain was outside my child's classroom and used by his class routinely when I contacted school staff," Heather told us this week. "To date no formal communication has gone out about it and, had I not asked, I would not have known my son's room number or that it was right by that fountain. Thus I believe some families remain unaware of the elevated risk posed to some of these specific students."

Ramos did send a special letter to Seth Boyden parents ensuring the that the fountain had been shutdown, but it did not indicate where the fountain was located or which students might be most affected.

Heather said she reached out to her family doctor on Monday and when she informed the physician of the 444 ppb level, she was advised to have her son's blood tested for lead levels.

And she believes all Seth Boyden students should be tested.

"I have consulted two separate doctors and do not believe anyone in this position should be forced to wait for the necessary testing of their child(ren)," she wrote via email. "I am in the privileged position of not having to wait with regard to my child's health, but not everyone is."

According to emails from the district responding to Heather's concerns and requests for blood testing, Ramos wrote, that "the district is doing everything it is legally responsible to do and then taking extra steps out of concern for the children and the families we serve."

School Board President Elizabeth Baker, meanwhile, showed some hope Tuesday, stating in an email to Heather, "in conjunction with our towns, Dr. Ramos and the administration are mobilizing to make developing testing services available and protocols for assisting families."

As of Friday morning no such protocols or testing plans have been announced, although a forum is set for Saturday morning to discuss the issue. Ramos on Thursday said the district is "researching" possible testing but first urged residents to take students to their family doctors.

But Heather contends that is not enough and she cannot wait with an appointment set to have her son's blood tested for lead today. She also says she plans to send the bill to Ramos and is contemplating legal action.

"Lead is serious and dangerous," Heather said. "Dr. Ramos lacks much more than knowledge about lead, he lacks even basic understanding of the need to express empathy and compassion here. He has no vested interest in our children or even their most basic health."

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