NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Newark school district has been hit with a federal lawsuit over lead in the drinking water.

Attorney Joel Silberman says the lawsuit against Newark’s public schools seeks class-action status and was filed in federal court Tuesday.

The parents of four children allege in the lawsuit that the district deliberately exposed children to harmful levels of lead. Lead is known to severely affect a child’s development.

The district shut off water fountains at half of its buildings in March because of elevated lead levels. Blood tests were also offered to 17,000 students at those schools for lead.

Newark schools spokeswoman Dreena Whitfield said the district hasn’t been served with the suit yet.  She said students’ safety is the district’s highest priority and the district is working to “solve this historic issue once and for all.”

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

On Monday, Gov. Chris Christie said he will require all of the state’s public schools to test for lead in water starting next school year. Federal law requires testing only in schools that run their own water systems.

Back in February, issues in Flint, Michigan, where a water source switch resulted in mass lead contamination for residents, sparked local concerns over the quality of water in New Jersey.

President Barack Obama is set to meet with residents of Flint Wednesday to hear how they’re managing amid the water crisis.

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