Two Eunice High School students were arrested Friday after allegedly pouring Krud Kutter into a teacher’s drink and filming the encounter on Snapchat.
The two students, both 17-year-olds, were booked on counts of mingling harmful substances. They mixed the all-purpose cleaning solution and degreaser into the teacher’s drink Wednesday when she stepped out of the classroom to get supplies for students, Eunice Police Chief Randy Fontenot said.
A female student poured the liquid cleaner into the drink while a male student filmed her and acted as a look out, he said.
Fontenot said the teacher noticed the strange taste of her drink when she returned to the classroom and disposed of the laced drink. He said he doesn’t believe she consumed enough to adversely affect her health.
A peer showed the Snapchat video to a school resource officer at Eunice High Thursday, the chief said. Officers investigated and the two students involved allegedly admitted to pouring the cleaning solution into the teacher’s Styrofoam cup.
Fontenot said the motive behind the students’ behavior is undetermined.
“They said they didn’t know why they were doing it, that they just did it. I think they claimed they were doing it as a prank,” the chief said.
Fontenot said the charge is a felony, but because the two students are juveniles and the offense is non-violent, they will not be charged as adults. The change is part of Louisiana’s Raise the Age Act, whereby 17-year-old offenders are handled under the juvenile justice system for nonviolent offenses. The first phase of the law took effect March 1.
Under the law, mingling dangerous substances is not included on the list of violent offenses even though it could cause potential injury, Fontenot said.
According to state law, mingling harmful substances is “the intentional mingling of any harmful substance or matter with any food, drink or medicine with intent that the mixture will be taken by any human being to his injury.”
St. Landry Parish Superintendent Patrick Jenkins said the school system will conduct an independent investigation into the allegations. Though the students were arrested, they still have due process rights within the school environment, he said.
As part of the investigation, administrators are also working to determine what other students, if any, were present when the incident took place, Jenkins said.
The superintendent said police have kept him informed about the investigation and he understands the two students allegedly confessed to pouring the cleaner into the teacher’s drink. A focus of the school system’s investigation is determining why.
“What we want to understand is why they would do something of that nature,” Jenkins said.
Eunice High principal Mitchell Fontenot has recommended the two juniors be expelled through the 2019-2020 school year, he said. The students have already been removed from campus and transitioned to an alternative school, where they’ll be allowed to complete their final exams, Jenkins said.
The last day of school for St. Landry students is Wednesday, according to the school system calendar.
The expulsion process involves a hearing with the school system’s child welfare and attendance supervisor, who will make a recommendation to the superintendent. The superintendent will review the information and a decision will be rendered, communications director Tricia Fontenot said.
She said there are several other steps involved in the process, per school system policy.
Jenkins said he was heartened that there was enough trust between local law enforcement and the school community for a concerned student to step forward. He also said he wants to assure the community that school administrators are taking the incident seriously and will work to prevent similar behavior from happening in the future.
“This is not typical of St. Landry Parish students, nor of our high schools. It’s disappointing. We take the safety of our students and staff very seriously. We’ll do what it takes to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Jenkins said.