Music teacher suspected of contaminating flutes with semen, roiling Southern California school districts – Los Angeles Times
Two Southern California school districts were giving conflicting messages over the weekend as they attempted to guide parents through a scare touched off last week by a state and federal investigation of a music specialist suspected of contaminating musical instruments with semen.
Responding to the probe, the Saugus Union School District in Los Angeles County sought help from parents to collect evidence in the investigation, which it said âis focusing on workshops where students made âflutesâ out of PVC pipe with a specific individual.â
The message, signed by Supt. Joan Lucid, included a list of seven locations where the specialist, whose identity has not been disclosed, gave workshops and assemblies.
Parents whose children brought home the instruments were advised to âplace the flute in a paper bag, not a plastic one, and call the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriffâs Station.â Paper was considered less likely to damage evidence.
Sheriffâs Sgt. Mike Konecny said Sunday that deputies were dispatched on âat least one or two callsâ to pick up flutes.
The district said locations where a different specialist gave the same workshop were not listed because they were not part of the investigation.
A message posted by the Fullerton School District in Orange County advised parents not to collect flutes.
âOur district has checked with our Chief of Police, from Fullerton, and the flutes from the program do not need to be tested or collected for the Police Department or Department of Justice,â a message posted Saturday morning said.
Fullerton police spokesman Sgt. Jon Radus declined to comment further Sunday, saying the investigation is being conducted by the California Dept. of Justice.
The state attorney generalâs office told the Los Angeles Times in a statement Saturday that it was âsupportingâ an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in part by working with local police and the schools to collect the instruments.
It was not clear why the Postal Inspection Service was involved. Calls to the agency from The Times were not immediately returned.
Messages from The Times to officials in the school districts were also not immediately returned.
The press office for the California attorney general elaborated on the statement Sunday, only to say that âschool districts and local law enforcement will be providing further information to parents regarding the collection process of the instruments.â
The investigation was disclosed Saturday by the Orange County Register, which reported that the instructor, representing an organization called Flutes Across the World, worked with students in at least four school districts.
The groupâs website had been disabled Sunday. An archived version of the groupâs website describes it as a tax-exempt organization based in Ojai, Calif. It shows pictures of children holding up brightly decorated flutes and describes the groupâs activities as educational and school programs, national and international music missions, community and family night events and summer camps and festivals. A solicitation says every $10 donated buys 30 mouthpieces for a whole class. A message left at the phone number on the site was not immediately returned.
The Register said the Fountain Valley School District and Newport-Mesa and Capistrano Unified districts had also sent messages to parents. But no notice was readily apparent on either districtâs website Sunday.
The investigation prompted a flurry of comments on the Santa Clarita Community Facebook page.
âMy daughter participated last year at North Park Elementary!â wrote Erica Pena Socarras. âThis is disturbing!â
âMy daughter had this class!â Michael Smith posted. âThe district needs to have the kids tested immediately!!!â
Both the Saugus and Fullerton districts emphasized in their messages that the sessions with students were all supervised by district personnel.