Search Warrant Executed at Home of Teacher Accused of Huffing ‘Canned Air’ in Front of 3rd Graders

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TIONESTA, Pa. (EYT) – Marienville-based State Police continue to gather information on a case involving a North Clarion Elementary teacher accused of huffing canned air duster in front of her students.

Superintendent Contacts State Police

According to court documents, on December 9, 2014, an allegation involving a teacher at the North Clarion School District was presented to Cpl. Weaver, of Marienville-based State Police, by the Superintendent of the North Clarion School District. This allegation was that a known 3rd grade teacher, who resides in Clarion, was ingesting canned air, also known as computer duster, in the classroom. This allegation was brought to the Superintendent’s attention on December 5, 2014, when a student’s grandfather relayed what his grandchild had allegedly seen in the classroom.

Court documents indicate that the Superintendent and Elementary Principal spoke with the accused teacher via a phone conference call on December 5, 2014, to which the teacher allegedly admitted to having the canned air in the classroom. The teacher also allegedly related she used a throat spray in the classroom. When questioned about the spray, the teacher allegedly could not provide the name brand or the location of where she purchased the spray.

Six students in the teacher’s classroom were interviewed on December 5, 2014, by two principals of North Clarion School District. The six students all observed the teacher placing a straw into her mouth and spraying from a can. Multiple students reported seeing the teacher “getting under the desk to conduct the spraying,” the document continues.

According to Officer Weaver, “This is not normal behavior for a teacher.”

District Attorney Holds Closed-Door Meeting with Parents

As previously reported by exploreClarion.com, a source close to the situation said the incident is alleged to have occurred in front of a classroom of approximately twenty students, ranging from ages 8 to 9.

The source earlier confirmed that Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron met with the parents of the children during a closed door meeting at the school on January 13.

ExploreClarion.com spoke with a parent who attended the meeting.

“Parents were confused and some were in the dark as to what had happened,” said the parent.

The parent’s 8-year-old child was in the room when the incident allegedly occurred. The child allegedly “saw the can” of spray duster and “heard a noise.”

According to the parent, District Attorney Aaron indicated that the children may need to testify against the teacher as the investigation progresses.

Teacher Interviewed by State Police

On January 30, 2015, the teacher was interviewed with her counsel Ralph Montana present. During the interview, the teacher allegedly related she used “Hurricane” throat spray in the classroom. She related that she had purchased the can a few months prior through Amazon.com. She allegedly produced a confirmation of the purchase for “Hurricane” through Amazon.com dated December 20, 2014, the court document states.

Officer Weaver states, “This purchase was well after the allegation was brought to (the teacher’s) attention on December 5, 2014, and not within the timeframe she provided stating when she purchased it.”

When the teacher was interviewed via phone on December 5, 2014, she was allegedly unable to provide the name of the brand or provide the location of where she purchased her throat spray. She stated that she was seen by the school nurse the Thursday after Thanksgiving, and the nurse confirmed her throat was red and irritated. She also related that she showed the nurse the can of throat spray on this date, according to the court document.

The school nurse was interviewed on February 4, 2015, and she related she was never shown a can of throat spray by the teacher. The nurse was asked about “Hurricane” throat spray. The nurse, who has 25 years in the medical field, stated that she had never heard of this medication and was unfamiliar with it, according to court documents.

“Hurricane” was a product unknown to Officer Weaver. A search of the product via a smartphone produced a photograph of a can of “Hurricane” Topical throat spray. The can appeared to be metal and had a red straw attached for the application, the court document indicates.

According to Weaver, “This item could easily be used as a diversion to a can of computer duster.”

Search Warrant Executed at Teacher’s Home

According to court documents, a search warrant was obtained last week by State Police for the search and seizure of various items related to the investigation.

The warrant was requested to allow investigators access to electronic devices capable of storing any relevant digital information including contacts, location, data, and other electronic information.

According to the search warrant request, access to the information was needed to view any possible online searches for the medication “Hurricane” and/or any medication that is “stored in a can or a bottle and may be dispersed via a straw.”

Investigators executed the search warrant on March 12 at the teacher’s residence in Clarion and seized an iPhone, an iPad, and a Dell computer.

Officials Mum on Investigation

Clarion County District Attorney’s office says the alleged incident remains under investigation. The nature of the investigation is listed as Corruption of Minors.

Calls to District Attorney Mark Aaron were not immediately returned.

School officials are also keeping quiet on the alleged incident.

“This is a personnel matter and I cannot comment,” said North Clarion Superintendent Steve Young.

Calls to PSEA Teacher’s Union President Steve Wilson were not returned.

No charges have been filed against the teacher as of March 19.


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