Local News

Milk Experiment Leads To Johnston Teacher's Suspension

Posted November 19, 2003 11:28 a.m. EST

— An experiment involving milk and students at Smithfield-Selma High School have created quite a mess for chemistry teacher Jeff Ferguson.

Ferguson's explanation that stomach acid makes it humanly impossible to drink a gallon of milk in an hour turned into a challenge some kids could not pass up. Thirty-eight students took part in the experiment, of which 13 got sick.

"We began feeling it in our stomachs. Some of us more than others. Some threw up and others stopped," student Jessica Gandolph said.

Parents called the school to complain about the experiment. On Friday, Ferguson was told to stay home. He is now suspended with pay pending an investigation.

Harold Trogdon, who has a freshman at Smithfield-Selma High School, said he is glad the district is looking into the experiment.

"I'm concerned a teacher would be able to go that far in an experiment to challenge a student to make a judgement call when probably, it could be life-threatening," he said.

"I understand why it could be dangerous like if someone's choking, but at the same time, I didn't see that. I think it was a good lab," Gandolph said.

Many of Ferguson's students are supporting him and even hung banners at school Tuesday night.

Ferguson filed a lawsuit, asking a judge to allow him to work while school officials are conducting their investigation.