With $7.6 million in new state funds, the School District of Philadelphia this week picked four contractors to clean up toxic lead paint in 40 schools after an Inquirer and Daily News investigation, "Toxic City: Sick Schools," exposed widespread problems.
Philadelphia district schools are filled with acres of damaged asbestos in ceilings, floor tiles and insulation. The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News investigated whether the district is doing enough to protect students from exposure to the cancerous fibers.
Many Philadelphia classrooms and gyms are incubators for illness, with toxic water fountains and lead paint falling from the ceiling. School staffers helped our reporters conduct scientific testing for these hazards. The results are disturbing.
A native of Kent, England, Barbara Laker came to the United States with her family when she was 12. In high school, as Watergate broke, Barbara knew she wanted to be a reporter. She graduated from the University of Missouri Journalism School in 1979. A reporter for more than 30 years, she joined the Daily News in 1993 and has been a general assignment reporter, assistant city editor and investigative reporter. With colleague Wendy Ruderman, she won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism for the series “Tainted Justice,” about a rogue narcotics squad in the Philadelphia Police Department. Laker co-authored the book Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love with Ruderman in 2014.