PS 7 drinking water safe for students: City

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Kids at an Elmhurst elementary school can finally sip from the drinking fountains after years of fearing the water was unsafe.

The city Department of Education tested the water for lead contamination after parents complained that their children were discouraged from drinking the water from some fountains at the school.

A spokeswoman for the DOE said the test results showed the water was safe.

“The tests were taken and it was fine,” said Marge Feinberg.

The DOE took the water tests after Jennifer Santana, a parent of a former student at the school and former member of the PS 7 Parent-Teacher Association, said she had complained about the water problem on a yearly basis since 2003.

“I’ve been asking for years, but I always got pushed aside,” she said.

Santana said that brown water emanates from several of the drinking fountains in the school.

The children at the school were instructed to bring their own water from home in bottles, Santana said, and were not allowed to drink out of the fountain at the nurse’s station and several other fountains because of the dingy color of the liquid.

“It’s frustrating,” she said. “What if my kids brings a bottle of water and run out?”

The water in the PTA office would even come out brown, according to Santana.

A teacher, who does not wish to be named for fear of jeopardizing her job, said she had to encourage her students to bring bottled water from home.

“It’s insane,” she said. “Would you make your kid drink brown water? No way. There is no child from my class that is going to get sick.”

Santana said she brought up the matter to the principal, Sara Tucci, on multiple occasions and at school safety meetings over the years.

Tucci could not be reached for comment.

But finally Santana decided to go a different route.

Santana said she brought up the matter at a Community Education Council District 24 meeting last month.

In response, District 24 Superintendant Madeline Chan said the matter would be investigated.

“I shouldn’t have had to go to the CEC,” she said.

Santana said the water at PS 7 should be tested regularly since the school was built on an old city truck yard and petroleum storage site, according to a complaint filed by Joseph Mugivan, a former teacher at the school.

Santana brought up the issue at a CEC 24 meeting last month, where the principal at PS 7 was taken to task for other issues such as hiring two additional assistant principals instead of teachers.

The teacher from PS 7 said another problem will plague the school next year because of budget constraints.

“Now they said because of the budget we’re not going to have toilet paper in September,” she said. “How do you run a school with no paper towels and toilet paper?”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 11:30 am, October 12, 2011
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