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Former DPS teacher files whistleblower lawsuit over unsafe water claim

drinking fountain
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Plumbwell Plumbing Services

A teacher is suing Detroit Public Schools for allegedly retaliating against her after she reported unsafe water at her school, John R. King Academy. 

According to the lawsuit, in the spring of 2016, Detroit Public Schools shut down water fountains in more than a dozen schools after high levels of lead or copper – or both – were found in the drinking water. 

John R. King Academy had too much copper. 

By the fall of 2016, the district said the problems were fixed. But at John R. King, they weren't, as a teacher, Katrina Brown found after she called the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

The agency found high copper levels in some fixtures and fined the district $4,000. The complaint remains open because the district hasn't abated the problem. 

Brown's lawsuit says she was reprimanded, reassigned to a school far from her home, harassed, and given poor evaluations in retaliation for her whistleblowing. 

A spokeswoman for Detroit Public Schools did not respond to a request for comment.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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