'Very elevated lead levels' found in two Hayhurst School classrooms

KATU Photo.

Portland Public Schools said Wednesday that tests on paint in window troughs in two classrooms at Hayhurst School showed “very elevated lead levels.”

In a letter to parents posted on the district’s website, Interim Executive Director of Operations Courtney Wilton said the elevated levels in the troughs were likely from paint chips that built up over many years.

The district used an independent contractor to conduct the tests.

She said the district is directing the school to keep all its windows closed until the problem can be fixed. It is providing fans to the school to help keep things cool.

The district is working quickly to hire an abatement contractor to clean the troughs, Wilton said.

The school held an open house Wednesday night and heard a lead presentation.

Some parents said they felt reassured that the school is moving forward.

"We feel very confident that the staff and the faculty here are doing everything necessary to make sure our kids are safe," said Robbie Long.

But Virginia La Forte, a lead safety advocate, said -- not so fast.

"Right now there needs to be a crash course in lead safety," she said.

Her friend, Tamara Rubin, is the founder of Lead Safe America. Rubin's son, who was disabled as an infant after lead exposure, was in the very classroom that tested positive for lead.

"You'd think if there's one classroom in PPS that was dialed, it would be that one," said La Forte. "Whether parents want to believe it or not they're in the same situation every day in hundreds of classrooms across the district; they need to know that it's OK to say something."

She said it's "crazy" that the district is shutting windows and using fans.

"You don't want to blow the lead dust around. All you need to do is start wiping everything down," La Forte said.

There are lead tests you can order to see if your child tests positive. Meanwhile, La Forte encourages concerned parents to contact school administrators.

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