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Idaho school district, sheriff investigate ‘regrettable’ use of biological specimens

Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has a school resource officer at Preston Junior High. The SRO is investigating a report of animal cruelty following the feeding of an animal in a biology classroom.
Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has a school resource officer at Preston Junior High. The SRO is investigating a report of animal cruelty following the feeding of an animal in a biology classroom.

A longtime junior high school biology teacher is under investigation following what the Preston School District is saying was a “regrettable” use of biological specimens last week, Superintendent Marc Gee said Monday.

The incident occurred after school on March 7.

Both the school district and sheriff’s office are investigating. The sheriff’s investigation was triggered by a complaint of animal cruelty, Gee said.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has a student resource officer at the school, a spokeswoman for the department said.

Late Monday afternoon, Sheriff Dave Fryar that he had forwarded a report on the investigation to the county prosecutor. He declined to discuss any details of the case, including what kind of animals were involved.

“I was just talking to the prosecutor on the phone,” Fryar said. “The prosecutor said, ‘Until he decides, he considers it an open book.’ He doesn’t want us to do anything to hamper the investigation.”

Preston is about 300 miles east of Boise. There are 605 students in grades six to eight at Preston Junior High.

Gee is unsure how many students were present at the time the incident occurred. He said the principal was made aware immediately after, and district officials were then notified.

Gee declined to address rumors on social media that a teacher fed a live puppy to a snapping turtle. He would not discuss the animals involved, other than to say it happened during an after-school feeding.

“School was out for the day. It wasn’t part of any of our classes,” Gee said.

It’s not uncommon for biology classes to have live animals. At no time during the incident was the safety of students or staff at compromised, the district says.

The name of the teacher involved in this incident was not released. The teacher is still in the classroom, not on leave, pending the outcome of the school investigation.

In a press release, the school district asked for the public’s patience:

“While the district certainly does not condone individual actions that may violate district policy or reasonable expectations of behavior, we hope that any errors in judgment made by a teacher in this instance will not cause us to forget the years of care, effort and passion the teacher has given to the students of the Preston School District.”

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

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