Three first-graders accused of plot to poison classmate

ANCHORAGE — Three first-graders in Alaska’s largest city plotted to kill a fellow student with silica gel packets that the girls believed was poison and have been disciplined but not charged with any crime, authorities said Wednesday.

Parents of the 32 first-graders attending Winterberry Charter School in Anchorage got word of the plot in a March 22 email from the principal. The three female students acknowledged that they planned to poison a female classmate, school district officials said.

A school resource officer interviewed the girls, and charges will not be filed, police said. Silica gel packets, which soak up moisture, are not poisonous.

“I’m not sure what we could criminally charge first-graders with,” police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said, noting that no parents or other adults were involved. “What ended up happening was the officer took each one of them individually, had a very a serious talk with all of them.”

Administrators and school district psychologists talked to the girls to see if they understood what they were trying to do, whether it was a prank gone wrong or if they actually meant to hurt their classmate, school district spokeswoman Heidi Embley said.

“All of these things are being discussed, especially since it’s such a young age,” she said.

The school resource officer determined that the trio intended to harm to the other girl, Castro said.

Police say the plot emerged from an ongoing feud but did not release any other details. Two other first-graders told school officials about the plan, and the officer also spoke with them.

The two students reported to administrators that the plan involved using the packets from the girls’ “lunchtime seaweed to poison and kill another student,” Principal Shanna Mall wrote in the email.

Police left discipline up to the school district. The email said it entailed “significant consequences.”

Embley said she couldn’t release further details about how the students were punished.

But Mall told Anchorage television station KTUU that the students were suspended. Mall couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday by The Associated press.

Asked if the school was getting calls from concerned parents or hearing from worried students, Embley said there was “nothing significant.”

The school is addressing any concerns directly with parents or students.

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This story has been corrected to show that parents were informed March 22, not March 29.

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Follow Rachel D’Oro at https://twitter.com/rdoro .

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