On July 13, 2016, the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted regulations regarding testing for lead in drinking water for all educational facilities. School districts were mandated to make all test results available at the school facility and on the district’s website. The regulations also require notification to the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), as well as to parents, in any instances where positive results over the established recommended exposure limit are reported. The notification should describe the steps taken to immediately end the use of each drinking water outlet where water quality exceeds the permissible lead level, as well as the measures taken to ensure that alternative drinking water has been made available to all students and staff.
After conducting a survey of districts, we can say with confidence that compliance has not been universal. Healthy Schools Now (HSN) has created a chart to highlight district compliance with the state mandated lead results website publication, including links to the results for those districts that have posted information online. In August, well after the stated deadline of July 13, 2017, HSN conducted a review of the district websites of the 31 Schools Development Authority (SDA) districts to see if lead testing test results were publicly posted. Fortunately, the majority of districts have complied. Unfortunately, 5 SDA districts (16%) have not complied with the state mandated requirement to post results on their district website: Gloucester City, Orange, Phillipsburg, Salem and Union City. HSN has contacted each of the non-compliant districts and implored them to follow the state mandated requirements and post results publicly as soon as possible. HSN also has a request in to DOE to verify whether the five non-compliant districts have requested waivers, and not yet received a response.
It is essential that districts adhere to the lead testing results reporting requirements. Parents, staff and the public has a right to know if school drinking water is safe. Gloucester City, Orange, Phillipsburg, Salem and Union City school districts must publish their lead testing results immediately.