A kindergarten teacher at Pine Forest Elementary School in Humble, Texas, has resigned after a school investigation revealed that she gave melatonin gummies to special education students without the consent of her students’ parents or guardians.
Humble Independent School District spokesperson Jamie Mount told CNN via email that the district became aware of the unnamed teacher’s distribution of the sleep aid on Sept. 28.
“The teacher’s actions were unacceptable,” Mount said. “We are appalled that the teacher made this decision.”
Results from the district’s investigation found the teacher at fault of giving out the melatonin and “acting on her own and without obtaining parent permission. The teacher also did not notify campus administration nor the nurse.”
Mount told the outlet that the teacher’s resignation was the quickest solution to “separate employment” since “terminating a teacher’s contract can be a longer, drawn-out process.” The school’s principal has notified all parents of the students in the teacher’s classroom of the incident. Police, the State Board for Educator Certification, and Child Protective Services were also notified by the district.
According to ABC 13, a parent of a 5-year-old student who was given the melatonin reported that the school’s principal notified her via phone call. The parent, who noted that her son is nonverbal, shared that the teacher was looking for ways to calm down her son.
“She called me a few times asking, ‘What do you do at home? What do you suggest to calm him down?’” the parent said. “He’s very active, and we sometimes have a hard time getting him to focus back on the task at hand.” The teacher asked if the boy liked gummies.
The parent said the boy came home “completely lethargic, stumbling to get off the bus” on a few occasions. “It’s a breach of trust,” the parent said.
In an overview of working with students with special needs, National University noted that the work environment for special education teachers can be highly stressful as they attend to students with a wide range of personalities and developmental struggles.
“Patience is a virtue,” the university emphasized. “It’s a must.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that melatonin, an over-the-counter sleep aid regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, is used for primary sleep disorders in children. According to ABC 13, the study found possibilities for children to overdose on the dietary supplement. The National Institutes of Health reported that “melatonin is commonly recommended to treat sleep problems in children with developmental disabilities.”
The teacher has not yet been charged.
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Source: Black Enterprise