DETROIT — Thousands of children who were exposed to lead in Flint’s drinking water would get access to more health screenings and education services under a deal announced Monday.
Families will be encouraged to get kids signed up on a registry, which will lead to tests and screenings to determine any unique education needs, according to an agreement that partially settles a federal lawsuit against the state of Michigan, the Flint school district and a regional education agency.
Participation will be voluntary, but more than 25,000 people could be eligible, including some young adults who haven’t graduated from high school, said attorney Greg Little of the New Jersey-based Education Law Center.
“This is truly a historic partnership” with Michigan and Flint-area school districts, said Little, who is leading a legal team that includes the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The community needs to understand completely the opportunities that are available,” he said.
Lead-tainted water flowed in Flint for 18 months before a disaster was declared in 2015. The corrosive water wasn’t properly treated before it moved through old plumbing.
There is no safe lead level in the human body. It can cause behavior problems and a lower IQ.
The state will provide $4.1 million to get the program started by fall, although the money still must be approved by Michigan lawmakers. There was no immediate comment from the state Education Department.
Little said certain education services are guaranteed under federal law once a special need has been identified.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who helped expose Flint’s lead mess in 2015, said lead can’t be directly linked to every development problem in area kids.
“But the sooner you identify an issue, the better the outcomes,” she said.
The agreement was announced three days after Gov. Rick Snyder said free bottled water in Flint would end soon. The city’s water has tested below the federal lead and copper limit of 15 parts per billion for about two years. Many residents, however, still don’t trust the water.
This story has been corrected to fix headquarters of Education Law Center to New Jersey, not Pennsylvania.
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