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Two PPS employees on leave pending outcome of lead testing protocol investigation

Chief Operating Officer, health and safety manager are under a personnel investigation

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Portland Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Tony Magliano at a Wednesday evening community meeting responds to questions about lead levels in the water. Board Chair Tom Koehler is also pictured. The Portland Public Schools board has hired Stoll Berne to investigate the district's systemic response to lead and will also complete a personnel review.

Chief Operating Officer Tony Magliano and an unnamed second employee will be on paid administrative leave during the month-long investigation. The second employee is Senior Manager for Health and Safety Andy Fridley.

“We need to know — and the public deserves to know — what happened and how the accurate information about the health and safety of our schools was not immediately available leading to legitimate concerns about lead in our water,” said Board Chair Tom Koehler in a Thursday evening news release. “We need to know if we have the right protocols in place and where we need to make improvements. We also need to know if there are personnel issues that resulted in this delay of information.”SUBMITTED PHOTO - A sign at a Portland Public Schools building warns occupants not to drink the water.

The Portland-based law firm's investigation will look at the systems the district had in place to respond to lead issues, how it managed information about those issues and what operations or employees might have broken down.

“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 Carole Smith in the news release. “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.”