Police & Fire

Two Students Arrested For Allegedly Poisoning Teacher At PS 315


Two boys have been arrested under suspicion of slipping rat poison into a teacher’s water bottle during class, says The New York Post. Police have arrested one 9-year-old and one 12-year-old boy, and have charged them with reckless endangerment, assault, and criminal possession of a weapon.

Despite the scary incident, teachers said it’s a wonderful school. One posted a positive review on the GreatSchools.org website Tuesday.

“My school is an excellent environment for learning. We are well into the 21st century and have Smart Boards, document cameras, desktops, and laptops available in all classrooms,” the teacher said. “This is an excellent school!”

The teacher, who went to the doctor yesterday complaining of nausea, is expected to recover.

This is a disturbing incident for any school, let alone one in our area. Anyone have their kids at PS 315 (aka School of Performing Arts) or any other experience with the school? What are your thoughts about arresting children as young as 9 and 12? Is there an alternative?

Comment policy


  1. Yes – our son went to pre-k at this school (we then moved out of NYS for job-related reasons) and had a wonderful experience. As his parents, we did too – the school community welcomed us all. There is certainly a need to carefully examine what happened up to, during and after this incident. But, I hope that people will avoid broad brush stroke conclusions about the school (and the children and/or teacher) in comments here and elsewhere.

    And as for these children and the question of alternatives to arrest… this is clearly a very serious incident and should be treated as such. But, arresting these two boys is very unlikely to teach them any kind of lesson we should want them to learn. National recidivism rates suggest that children who are arrested once are more likely to re-offend. The court system simply doesn’t act as a deterrent. If fact, it more often escalates the risk of future misconduct by children who whose brains are not fully developed yet, and as such, sometimes make very big mistakes – but who are also more able to change their behavior than are adults (we’ve all heard the expression “ it’s harder to teach an old dog new tricks”).

    Sadly, New York is not only one of just two states in the country that consider the age of majority to be 16 for any “crime,” but New York also sets the minimum age of criminal responsibility at 7, lower than the vast majority of states – realities that unnecessarily funnel many of New York’s children and youth along a pipeline to prison from which it is hard to escape and that returns positive results for virtually nobody.

    In many places, there are alternatives to arrest for children. And, let me be clear – “alternatives” should not be translated as a “free pass.” If this incident happened as reported (and I am not saying it did or did not – just making clear that I don’t know the specifics), then there is a need for an intensive professional response that ensures these children understand the seriousness of their actions, understand that they are being held accountable in very real ways – and as such are given the opportunity to try and repair the very serious harm they inflicted upon their teacher and their school community.

  2. What do you mean by “Intensive professional response”? Can you be more specific? Provide some examples?

  3. counseling and treatment was what I primarily meant by “intensive professional response.”

    Keep in mind that in addition to these criminal charges, the school will be taking action per the discipline code – which based on what I know about the NYC school discipline code will likely involve these students being assigned to alternative schools for a year.

    But, one other example based on what works in other places… ideally there would be a mediated conversation where a few members of the school community (inc. the teacher if she is willing to do so) would have a chance to address the two boys to share how they felt about the boys’ actions/how their actions affected people. The boys would be prepped to understand the expectation that they listen respectfully and respond thoughtfully to the comments. Then the group would work together to lay out how the boys can make amends – could be intensive community service or something else. This is one example of a restorative justice approach (repairing harm done) – and it is no walk in the park for the “offender” (perhaps why it is so effective when facilitated well).

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