Parents concerned over no running water at elementary school

LISBON, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Lisbon Elementary School was closed to students Friday, because of no running water in the schools.

But some concerned parents contacted our Whistleblower Hotline, saying the kids were never sent home the day before—despite the fact that there was no water from 11:30 a.m. on.

One parent tells us his youngest child only had one carton of milk all day long.

Emily Thomas, a first grader at Lisbon Elementary, tells us her account of the situation.

"A pipe froze,” she said, “and we had to go to the middle school or the high school to go to the bathroom."

Her brother, Cameron Thomas is a fourth grader at the same school. He says he’s just recovering from being sick, which made Thursday a rough day.

"I usually fill up my water bottle three or four times a day,” he said, “and I only filled it up once, so I felt like I was dehydrated."

But his sister Emily, who also brings a water bottle to school, says she didn’t run out of water.

Lisbon Elementary school principal, Elinor Meckle, says the problem actually came from a sewer blockage—and the school didn't close because they kept thinking the problem would be resolved at any minute.

"It's happened before,” Meckle said, “we've had it fixed within no time and then everything's been able to move on. And that's what we thought was gonna happen yesterday, we never had something like this."

Meckle says she let all the students know she had water in her office if they didn't have their own at school that day.

When I visited the school on Friday, the staff was working even though the kids were off. Sure enough, there was a cooler with water bottles in it.

But not all the kids say they were aware of the principal’s water. Two of the Whistleblower parents who contacted us say their kids weren’t aware, and neither were Emily or Cameron Thomas.

Still, principal Meckle says the kids had plenty of trips to either the middle or high schools throughout the day, where they could use the bathroom and get water.

The Thomas siblings confirmed to me it was a short walk to either schools.

Meanwhile, third grader, Briar Hoff, says he had enough water to drink, but wished he could use the bathroom more.

"We kinda had to wait until recess…because it was cold out and they didn't want us walking down to the middle school alone," he said.

But even though he had to wait to use the bathroom, Briar says it was only about 20 minutes from the time he raised his hand to when he went—and he wasn’t uncomfortable.

We reached out to the area's department of health to find out if there were any violations.

We received the following statement from Brenna Welton:

"As the Administrator of Ransom County Public Health, there were no health or safety code violations made in this situation…all students had access to water and bathrooms continuously throughout the day. In addition, as a parent of two children that attend Lisbon Elementary, I fully believe that ALL proper provisions were taken, and the wellbeing and safety of the students was the school’s main priority."

Principal Meckle says she expects the school to be open to students again by Monday.