DETROIT – A deal was announced Monday to get more health screenings and education services to thousands of children who were exposed to lead in Flint's drinking water.
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. The agreement partly 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 Pennsylvania-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.
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 about the agreement from the state Education Department.
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.
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 directly be linked to every development problem in kids.
"But the sooner you identify an issue, the better the outcomes," she said.
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