Teacher Suspended After Mercury Stolen From His Classroom
Posted October 25, 2005
CREEDMOOR, N.C. — A teacher was suspended with pay after mercury was stolen from his science classroom at South Granville High School, officials said Tuesday. The two students suspected of stealing at least eight ounces of the liquid mercury were also charged with juvenile larceny.
Police said the hazardous substance was not properly locked in a cabinet, making the mercury accessible to students on at least two occasions.
Granville County Schools
EPA's Information On Mercury
N.C. Department Of Public Instruction
Police said two students, whose identities have not been released because they have been charged as juveniles, stole the mercury on Oct. 11 and passed it out to other students.
South Granville High School was closed for three days last week while health officials conducted air quality inspections in the school's classrooms and cleaned up 14 classrooms that had mercury vapor levels higher than the recommended level by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Other students who officials said played with the mercury also have been suspended.
When freshman Mark Abram returned to school Monday, he said he and his father were surprised to find out he had been suspended for 10 days. He said at least four other students were suspended.
"There are no words to express how I feel," said Phillip Abram, Mark's father. "It's so blown out of proportion."
Mark Abram, a freshman, said he played with the substance on Oct. 4, days before two students admitted to stealing the mercury , police said.
"There were four or five (students) playing with it on the table," Mark Abram said. "The substitute (teacher) never said anything. I never took it out of the classroom."
Although Mark Abram said he did not take the mercury from the room, a letter from the school said he and several others did. The letter said he was suspended for 10 days and the school would recommend long-term suspension.
His father said he would fight long-term suspension.
"Slap them on the wrist. Suspend them for 10 days," Phillip Abram said. "Suspension for the rest of the year is too extreme."
The Granville County School System said it would not comment because of privacy reasons and the ongoing investigation.
Officials with the N.C. Department of Instruction said they do not recommend the use of mercury in classrooms. They said they were under the impression that mercury had been removed from South Granville High School about two years ago and they would try to figure out why that did not happen.
DIP officials added that they will discuss the use of hazardous materials in the classroom, including mercury, during a series of meetings next week.