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Cruz Bay
Monday, March 27, 2023


To the Source:
Here we go again. School officials allowing our children and teachers to be exposed to contaminated water.
Do not count on parents remaining complacent, trusting that the Department of Education will see to it that the schools have safe drinking water! The record on that score is subject to serious question.
I've been involved with the Joseph Sibilly School and Monroe Annex problem from the beginning. I've been to all the Senate hearings on this problem. Nothing has been resolved.
As parents, if we allowed our children to drink contaminated water, Human Services would step in and, quite rightly, take our children from us to protect them from harm and parental negligence. Who is protecting our children at school? Are our schools safe places for our children? How can we protect them from harm and the apparent lack of interest of school officials?
The commissioner of Education told us that the water would be tested and we would be informed if there were problems. Yet in many cases, including last May, we were not informed. Now they stopped testing the water. Why? What stopped the testing?
The PTSA at Joseph Sibilly School and Monroe Annex had discussed the installation of an ultraviolet system which would take care of most organic contaminants. This was also brought up in the Senate hearings. This system was put into the new Peace Corps and Lockhart Elementary Schools when they were rebuilt. It is interesting to note that neither of these schools has an ongoing water problem.
Why has this system not been installed in all of our public schools? Don't all of our children deserve equal protection from harmful contaminants in their drinking water?
The organic contamination is just one thing. The Education Department still has no clue as to how carcinogenic chemicals ended up in Monroe Annex cistern.
This issue will not just go away. I will not go away as a concerned mother, or as president of the Northside Civic Organization. I will push for the answers we so rightly deserve. Again: Do not count on parents to remain quiet on this matter. The perception of the parents is that the Department of Education has been negligent. If no corrective action is forthcoming, the next step could be a lawsuit to force the department to honor its role in protecting the health of our children and teachers by at least providing safe drinking water.
We need a solution. As parents and teachers we must continue to demand answers. As I recently read in a Daily News interview, "The normal treatment is such cases" simply isn't working.

Ann Durante-Arnold
President, Northside Civic Organization, St. Thomas

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