PPS places two employees on leave as lead investigation begins - KPTV - FOX 12

PPS places two employees on leave as lead investigation begins

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The Portland Public School Board of Education announced Thursday that two employees have been placed on administrative leave as an investigation begins into why there was a delay in shutting off water faucets and fountains after high levels of lead were found.

PPS said Superintendent Carole Smith placed two employees, Chief Operating Officer Tony Magliano and Senior Environmental Manager Andy Fridley, on paid administrative leave pending the completion of a full personnel investigation.

According to PPS, they selected the firm Stoll Berne to conduct an investigation of the incidents that led to the delays in shutting off water faucets and fountains that were impacted by high levels of lead found in several schools.

The investigation will review systems and protocols relating to water and a personnel review to find out if actions relating to the delay were due to mismanagement by members of the administration, according to PPS.

"The Board and I know that mistakes were made and I encourage this investigation into our systems and protocols as well as a related personnel review," said Superintendent Smith. "I also look forward to a swift conclusion and recommendations from the investigation to provide an independent assessment of where we can improve our internal systems and communications in the future on behalf of our students and staff."

Parents and grandparents of Creston School, where high levels of lead were found, called the latest development a "positive first step" but said their faith in PPS could be damaged beyond repair.

"It’s not enough by any means,” grandparent Rita Schuster said. "I’m even worried about the testing results itself - who’s running these tests? I’ve lost faith, to be honest.”

Parent Jessica Lindley said she has a couple children currently attending Creston and other children that graduated from the K-8 school. 

“I’d hope if they had reason to be putting people on leave, administrative leave, they’d be sharing with parents why they felt that was appropriate and what they had done,” Lindley said. “I don’t think they have our kids best interest in mind anymore, which is sad because I want to feel that way about them. I want to trust what they say is best for these kids, and it’s not what we’re seeing, and it’s not what we’re hearing unfortunately.” 

The district said the external investigation will begin immediately.

School board Vice-Chair Amy Kohnstamm said both Magliano and Fridley were directly involved in lead testing processes and district communications regarding that testing. 

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