(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Contractor faces public questioning Friday about ‘milk’ incident

Company that served chemical sealant to children to face Juneau’s school board at special meeting

The company that served chemical floor sealant instead of milk to children in a summer program at an elementary school this week will be questioned by the Juneau School District Board of Education during a public meeting at noon Friday, with the Juneau Police Department also likely to conclude its investigation the same day, officials said Thursday.

A special meeting of the school board will begin with a “discussion with NANA Management Services regarding (the) food services incident,” according to an agenda published by the district. Twelve kids and two adults drank the sealant when it was served Tuesday morning by the company during breakfast at the RALLY program Sít’ Eetí Shaanáx – Glacier Valley School.

A renewal of NANA’s contract to continue providing services in Fiscal Year 2023 will also be discussed after it was removed from the board’s agenda during its regular meeting Tuesday. The board will also consider other items it postponed at the meeting including allowing cultural regalia at school events and a negotiated agreement for Juneau Education Support Staff employees.

The meeting will be accessible via a Zoom link available at www.juneauschools.org.

District Superintendent Bridget Weiss has said the mix-up occurred because large pouches of the chemical were mistakenly stacked on the same pallet as boxes containing large pouches of milk. The two liquids, she noted, are similar in appearance and the pouches containing the chemicals are designed to make the substance odorless.

Some of the children who ingested the liquid were examined in the emergency room of Bartlett Regional Hospital or by other medical officials, but none apparently sustained serious or long-last lasting effects, according to district officials.

The Juneau Police Department is leading the investigation of the incident, and may be able to submit its findings to the school district and possibly prosecutors by Friday, said Lt. Krag Campbell. He said he is not aware of any lack of cooperation by parties involved in the incident.

“Right now, we don’t have enough information to say if there’s any criminal activity or not,” he said.

Campbell said he is not aware of any similar incident or investigation locally for at least the past couple of decades.

The incident has received widespread — and sometimes sensationalistic — national media coverage, along with social media commentary frequently venturing into conspiracy theories.

Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com.

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