SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — A former northeastern Pennsylvania school district superintendent accused of covering up lead and asbestos contamination in the schools has been accepted into a program that may allow her to eventually have her criminal record expunged.
The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reports that court records indicate that a judge granted a motion to admit former Scranton School District head Alexis Kirijan into the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program, which gives defendants an opportunity to clear their records.
Kirijan and two other people were charged in September with reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of children after authorities alleged that district officials were repeatedly told as far back as 2016 that at least 10 schools had dangerous lead levels in drinking water but failed to resolve the problem and misled the public about it. Authorities alleged that officials were also told of dangerous asbestos levels in dozens of locations.
In June, the state dropped 38 felony counts of child endangerment and 20 of 23 misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment against Kirijan. The state dropped all charges against former director of operations Jeffrey Brazil and maintenance supervisor Joseph Slack.
School districts statewide have been grappling with how to address environmental hazards in aging school buildings. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, while lead can cause lifelong brain damage and other injuries, especially in children.
A 2018 state law encourages schools to test for lead in drinking water annually but doesn’t mandate testing and officials don’t track how many districts have tested. Schools that find high levels of lead are required to notify the state and act immediately to prevent people from drinking contaminated water.
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