We are thrilled to announce an exciting update on the progress of Faber’s Equal Justice Works (EJW) fellow Madeline Middlebrooks (Semanisin). Middlebrooks has been working with Great Rivers Environmental Law Center since Fall of 2020 to address the lead contamination crisis in St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS). As a result of Middlebrooks’ and many others hard work and dedication, Governor Mike Parson has signed off on legislation which requires water testing in Missouri public schools, as well as devotes $27 million in federal funds to help schools install water filters.
The “Get the Lead Out of School Drinking Water Act,” which was signed into law on July 1st, 2022, will go into effect on Aug 28th, and will require schools to test their drinking water for lead contamination on a yearly basis; if samples show a lead concentration of 5 parts per billion (ppb) or greater, remediation will take place in the form of water filtration installation. The law also dictates that, if in the 10 years prior to the 2023-24 school year a water source has already tested above 5 ppb for lead, the source does not need to be re-tested, but instead will be remediated immediately.
In addition to her work helping to draft the bill, Middlebrooks played an integral role in raising awareness for the lead crisis overall as well, playing an active role in launching an official coalition of five community-based organizations. The coalition then went on to examine the extent of the crisis, and further launched a state-wide campaign advocating for water safety, culminating in the drafting and ultimate passing of the bill.
Faber continues to be exceptionally proud of the work of both Middlebrooks and previous EJW fellow Jen Rasay, who had great success working alongside the National Center for Law and Economic Justice to remove harmful restrictions placed on access to services intended for individuals with disabilities. We look forward to seeing more great successes from Middlebrooks and Rasay throughout their careers.
This fall, Molly Gordon will begin work as our third Faber fellow, working alongside Southeast Louisiana Legal Services to increase housing stability for individuals who have been subject to unfair rent debt collection practices as a result of the pandemic. To learn more about Gordon’s fellowship click here.