Multiple students at Buddy Taylor Middle School in Palm Coast were bitten by wild rats while under the supervision of a teacher, according to an investigation conducted by the Flagler County school district.
On a day when much of the student body was engaged in standardized testing, a group of over a dozen students accompanied the instructor to the school’s farm. There, they were to feed some of the animals and look on as she flushed out some of the holes in the ground, believed to have wild rats in them.
According to the documents, as she was flushing out the holes, at least three students were bitten. Only one of the children was bitten hard enough to break the skin.
In the investigation report, the child alleges he told the teacher as soon as it happened.
“I told her I got bit, and I got rabies, so she said you don’t [have] rabies,” the student wrote.
He said the teacher in question appeared to be distracted by the task at hand and didn’t pay much attention to his complaint. The boy’s identity has been redacted from the official documents. She wrote a letter to the administration. In said letter, she was firm in her account that she never knew of the bites.
“I didn’t report it because I did not know about it to do so.”
The Department of Children and Families was notified of the allegations that the teacher did not take the appropriate steps to seek medical attention for one of the students who was bitten. That case has since been closed, as a district official said they decided not to pursue it any further.
As for the school district’s investigation, an interview was conducted with the teacher, where she told investigators she instructed the students to not touch the rats in the first place.
The teacher was given a written reprimand following the investigation and according to district officials, she was never removed from the classroom as a result of the incident. The agriculture program under which the farm is run has been put on pause.
District officials told FOX 35 News it will remain inactive until all of their students get the proper safety training as it relates to the farm protocols.
Lacey Niemann’s daughter was in the group of students on the day of the incident. She said she didn’t learn her daughter would be involved in the farm-based activities until she got home that day. She’s hopeful the incident will spark a positive change in the program to ensure students and teachers are taking the proper steps to keep everyone safe.
“I know things do happen, but there should be protocols in place for that sort of thing,” she said. She is among several parents who believe the agriculture program and the knowledge that comes with it does more harm than good. “I think the [agriculture] program is really beneficial.”
This article is a repost by Fox 35 Orlando: Multiple Florida students bitten by wild rats while under teacher supervision, district says