PHILADELPHIA An aide at a rural Pennsylvania school handed out pet treats to dozens of fourth-grade students and may have told them the food was cookies or crackers, according to local media reports.
It was unclear how many children ate the pet treats, but the part-time worker at Upper Frederick elementary school in New Hanover gave them to about 75 students on Thursday, Richard Faidley, the Boyerton Area School District superintendent, said in a statement seen by Reuters.
It was unclear what might have motivated the aide to hand out the pet treats to students. The worker at the school, which is about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Philadelphia, has been placed on leave pending the results of an investigation, the statement said.
“The treats may have been misrepresented as cookies or crackers,” Faidley said in the statement released on Friday.
Faidley could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
“Our research on the product indicates that the treat ingredients would not be harmful to people, with the exception for those individuals with specific food allergies,” Faidley’s statement said.
One student at the school, Gabriel Moore, told local television station WFMZ that he ate three of the treats.
"She made it look like it was a joke that they were dog treats and then she came around and said, 'No they are cookies. They are fine,'" Gabriel told the station.
David Moore, Gabriel’s father, told WFMZ the children trusted the aide.
”Like what if it was rat poisoning or something,” Moore told the station. “So it was kind of shocking to be honest with you.”
(Reporting by Dave Warner in Philadelphia, Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Eric Walsh)