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Boy Suspected of Trying to Poison Math Teacher

The student, 16, put eyedrops in his instructor's water bottle in an attempt to make her ill, authorities in Placentia say.

October 10, 2003|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

A Placentia student who was struggling with algebra has been arrested and charged in an attempted poisoning of his math teacher, officials said.

The boy, 16, put eyedrops in his teacher's water bottle Friday at El Camino Real High School to give her what he expected would be "an explosive case of diarrhea," said Placentia police Det. Corrine Loomis.

The boy was not identified because of his age.

He was arrested Monday, charged with tampering with food or drink with intent to harm, and suspended from school. He was released into the custody of his parents and could be expelled.

His plot was foiled when two students saw him squeeze the drops into the teacher's water and removed the bottle before she could drink it, said Principal Glen Collard.

In a meeting with school administrators, the boy said he was frustrated and believed the teacher, who was not identified, was not giving him the help he needed, Collard said.

"I'm not buying the second part of that. She's a good teacher," said Collard.

When questioned by police, the teen said he had been plotting against the teacher since the second week of school, said Loomis.

"He said he's had trouble grasping the subject and that he felt the teacher was talking down to him. He also considered loosening the straps of the television hoping it would drop on her," Loomis said. He never went through with that plan, she added.

Instead, the boy chose to poison the teacher, said Loomis.

"He put some thought into this -- how to get back at the teacher -- and decided on making her ill. He told the [investigating] officer that if he put the drops in her water it would give her explosive diarrhea.... If given in a large enough dosage, the drops could've put her in a coma," Loomis said.

Collard said nothing like this has ever happened in the school's history. He praised the students who reported the incident.

El Camino Real High, a continuation school, has won several awards for its curriculum and staff. The school is the last stop for students in danger of not graduating from regular high schools.

The suspect lives in Santa Ana but is allowed to attend the Placentia school because his father works in that city, said Collard.

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