Fifth graders put rat poison in teacher's coffee

February 22, 2012 9:00:00 PM PST
Parents sound off after Fresno Unified School District confirmed a plot by three elementary school students to poison their teacher.

District officials say the students put rat poison in the teacher's coffee. Fortunately, she did not drink it. Action News has learned the plot took place at Balderas Elementary school in Southeast Fresno. It happened back in December.

"What happened? I mean, why would the kid do that?"

Harvey Marquez has been asking himself that question since learning about the plot to poison a fifth grade teacher at Balderas Elementary, where his daughter goes.

Fresno Unified officials say three students, ages 10 and 11, put rat poison in her coffee. One of them knocked it over after having a change of heart. The students were suspended, and Fresno Police are investigating the case. But, no charges have been filed.

District spokesperson, Susan Bedi released a statement to Action News about the incident, saying in part quote, "When the District became aware of these allegations it acted swiftly to take appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved. Typically disciplinary action would include suspension with a recommendation for expulsion."

Marquez says he's satisfied with that response.

Harvey Marquez said, "You don't want your kids hanging around kids that come up with these ideas of trying to poison a teacher."

But, the Fresno Teachers' Association argues more needs to be done. Calling the incident outrageous, FTA president, Greg Gadams issued his own statement criticizing what he says are dangerous conditions that exist within the district and inconsistent enforcement of discipline. He also said in part, "Had they been successful there is no telling what we would be talking about today; the potential death of a teacher; charges against a family member? Who knows?"

As for how the students came up with such a frightening plot, no one has said. But, Harvey Marquez understands it's serious. Which is why, he's already discussed it with his third grade daughter.

Greg Gadams also says the children laced a cupcake with rat poison. But, District officials could not confirm that. The Fresno Teachers Association is holding a press conference Friday morning to discuss their concerns.

Fresno Police say once their investigation is complete, they will consider going to the District Attorney's office to determine if charges should be filed.

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