news story- strawberry allergy



2 Students Accused of Poisoning B.I Teacher

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. -- Two 12-year-old students at a Bainbridge Island school poisoned their teacher on Thursday because they didn't want to attend class, police said.

Police said the two girls knew the teacher was allergic to strawberries when they put strawberry-flavored lip gloss in the teacher's coffee cup and water bottle.

"They decided if they used real strawberries, that might actually kill the teacher, and they didn't want to do that. They just wanted to make her sick so they didn't have to turn in the progress report," said Deputy Chief Mark Duncan of the Bainbridge Island Police Department.

The 58-year-old teacher at Sakai Intermediate School had an allergic reaction and became ill, police said. Medications counteracted the effects and the woman was not taken to a hospital.

Police said one of the students had forgotten to bring in a signed progress report from her parent.

Both students admitted that they had intended to make the teacher sick, police said.

"I think it's two 12-year-old that didn't understand the significance of their conduct. They've not been in trouble before. They're extremely remorseful at this point," said Duncan.

The two girls were taken to Juvenile Detention and are charged with second-degree assault.

Police said the allergic reaction had the potential to be fatal.

On Mar 30, 2007

Um... at 12, they didn't know? They knew enough to know strawberries could kill the teacher. If they had put rat poison in her drink...would the attitude toward them be harsher? Everyone says tell EVERYONE at school about my daughter's PA, but stuff like this is why it makes me nervous. It's like announcing to every freaky kid and bully - hey, torture me with peanut butter!

On Mar 30, 2007

The cynical part of [i]me[/i] suspects that such conduct is quite different when a [i]teacher[/i] is the victim... How many times have I read about other students doing this kind of thing to kids of people who post here.... and the school doing virtually [i]nothing[/i] about it?

I mean, here the [i]MOTIVE[/i] was pretty clear. What if there isn't a clear motive for the behavior? Is it okay then, because one student couldn't possible really want to harm another one?

Just feeling cynical.

dripping sarcasm here, too} How [i]nice[/i] that the teacher didn't need to [i]go to the nurse's office[/i] to treat her allergic reaction, as well. Good thing she had her meds with her. Something which schools (again) tend to fight parents over.

[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited March 30, 2007).]

On Mar 30, 2007

Christabelle, the point you brought up about EVERYONE being told about your child's pa is exactly what scares the he** out of me and my husband. He's afraid of exactly this scenario. My dd will be entering her teen years soon; it's scary. I've epi-pen trained all my daughter's friends and their parents (of the few friends that she has because I don't let her just go over anybody's house unless we go through the entire procedure with the parents and friends.) A few weeks ago one friend's mother brought the girls to Applebee's without our knowledge. My DD called and my husband made the mother drive her home just as they were being served. Changes everything..

On Apr 1, 2007

A couple of updates on things.....



In the second,


Jonathan Martin Seattle Times

As assaults go, strawberry lip gloss is not an obvious weapon of choice. Unless, perhaps, the suspects are sixth-grade girls.

Two 12-year-olds from Bainbridge Island are facing possible assault charges for slathering strawberry-scented lip balm on a water bottle and coffee cup Thursday to prompt an allergic reaction in their teacher, who has a severe allergy to strawberries.

The motive? A progress report was due, and one of the girls did not have a parent's signature.

"They thought if they could make the teacher sick, then the progress report would not be an issue," said Mark Duncan, deputy chief of the Bainbridge police. "This is 12-year-old thinking."

The girls, students of Sakai Intermediate School, told police they considered using real strawberries, but did not want to kill their teacher, just distract her from the missing progress report.

So they resorted to lip gloss.

After sipping from the tainted coffee mug, the teacher, Kasey Jeffers, 58, had a mild reaction - watery eyes and shortness of breath - in front of her class, said Pam Keyes, a Bainbridge schools spokeswoman. Jeffers took medicine and went home early, according to police.

A fellow student turned in the girls, and they were given emergency expulsions. Their parents, who were summoned to the school, were appalled when the girls explained their plan to police, Duncan said.

The girls, he said, were "very remorseful."

The Seattle Times generally does not name juvenile suspects.

The pair spent Thursday night and most of Friday in the Kitsap County juvenile-detention center. They appeared in Kitsap County Juvenile Court on Friday on suspicion of second-degree assault, a Class B juvenile felony with a maximum sentence of 36 weeks in state juvenile custody.

The girls, who do not have records, were held on $500 bail, based on being a "potential danger to the community," said Todd Dowell, a Kitsap County juvenile prosecutor.

Dowell said his office was weighing what charges to file Monday. But the case was well beyond a prank, he said, based on the girls' intent to sicken their teacher.

"The case certainly has its own unique circumstances," Dowell said.

The teacher's allergies are well known at the school, and so severe that strawberries - once an agricultural staple of the island - are banned from the teachers' lounge, Duncan said. [b] Fewer people are allergic to strawberries than nuts, but such an allergy can cause wheezing, swelling of the tongue and possibly death, said Dr. Arvinder Mokha, an allergist at Seattle's Polyclinic.

But for a lip balm to trigger anaphylactic reaction, it would have to contain real strawberries, he said. If the balm was purely synthetic, the teacher's reaction could have been a panic attack, he said. [/b] Jeffers returned to work Friday, and declined to speak to news media. The district, which is on spring break next week, will review the case with the girls, their parents and police before deciding whether to lift the expulsions, Keyes said.

For her part, Jeffers would welcome the students back to her class, Keyes said.

"Nobody wants to hang two 12-year-olds for bad behavior, but it's also a serious incident," Duncan said. "I don't think they knew the significance of their actions."

(Which is what I wondered at the beginning.... OTOH, how frightening to know that someone wanted to harm you and could just as easily have killed you but for their ignorance of immune recognition.)

[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited April 01, 2007).]

On Apr 1, 2007

I am allergic to strawberries and I also react to synthetic strawberries.

On Apr 3, 2007

Just an update on the story.


2 Girls Charged in Assault Against Teacher

Two Bainbridge Island girls accused of trying to poison their teacher with strawberry lip gloss were charged with third-degree felony assault in Kitsap County Juvenile Court on Monday.

The girls appeared in a Kitsap County courtroom Monday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to charging papers, the 12-year-old girls, knowing their teacher, Kasey Jeffers, has a severe allergy to strawberries, put the lip gloss on her water bottle and coffee cup on Thursday. The girls wanted to make their teacher ill to get out of a progress report, police said.

When the teacher drank from her cup while teaching a class Thursday she had a minor reaction to the strawberry lip gloss and suffered from watery eyes and shortness of breath, according to Bainbridge Island schools. She countered the symptoms using Benadryl and went home early.

The children, who were students of Sakai Intermediate School, were arrested and spent Thursday night and most of Friday in the Kitsap County juvenile-detention center.

The Seattle Times generally does not name juvenile suspects.