The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $480,000 grant to the Flint, Mich., school system as it students and residents are still grappling with the fallout of a lead-contaminated water crisis.
Last fall, investigators discovered that hundreds of children in the financially strapped city have high levels of lead in their blood, in part because of the state’s decision to switch the source of Flint’s water supply.
U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. is scheduled to visit the district to formally announce the Project School Emergency Response to Violence grant. King’s visit comes on the heels of Congress approving $170 million in aid to help Flint rebuild its water system.
President Obama visited the city in May.
Flint’s water supply was contaminated after water from the Flint River wasn’t treated to reduce corrosiveness.
Lead contamination has been linked to learning disabilities and other problems in children, as we wrote in January:
The lead poisoning could have lifelong consequences. Research has tied high levels of lead in blood to learning disabilities, poor classroom performance, impaired growth, and even hearing loss.
Numerous studies detail the significant negative effects of lead toxicity on learning and educational attainment, and the associated costs, including the rise in special education services for developmentally delayed students.
The funding announced Friday is designed to deal with attendance, discipline, and mental health problems among students. The money is meant to be used to hire attendance specialists, counselors, and psychologists to help deal with problems and complications that may occur because students were exposed to toxic tap water.
More than a year after the discovery of lead-tainted water, the 5,500-student district is still supplying students and staff members with bottled water in an effort to reduce their exposure to lead.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will spend $3.6 million in emergency funds to expand Head Start and Early Head Start services for young children affected by the crisis.
Photo Credit: The Flint River runs through Flint, Mich. Located northwest of Detroit, the city was home to sprawling General Motors automotive plants, earning the nickname “Vehicle City.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.