Flutes that may contain bodily fluids given to some Orange County students – Orange County Register
State officials are investigating multiple flutes that were distributed to some students in at least three Orange County school districts as part of a music program. Authorities say the instruments may have contained bodily fluids.
In emails sent to parents of students on Friday afternoon, September 29, district officials informed them that there was an investigation into flutes given to students – as young as elementary school age – by a person who is also under investigation.
The flutes were made of PVC plastic pipes and a single cork and had an exterior that could be decorated, district officials said. The individual, who has not been identified, is an independent contractor. The individual was not an employee of the affected districts in Orange County and worked in several school districts in Southern California.
“We have been informed that an independent contractor who provided a musical enrichment program to grade five classes at Courrèges Primary School, in June 2017, gave students potentially fluid-contaminated flutes/recorders. injuries,” Fountain Valley School District superintendent Mark Johnson said in an email.
Johnson said in the email that the flutes may have gone to children who participated in the Flutes program around the world. He added that Courrèges primary school was the only site in the district likely to have been hit.
The California Department of Justice is investigating the suspect, as is the United States Postal Inspection Service, although it is not immediately clear why.
Similar messages went out to families in the Capistrano Unified School District and the Newport Mesa Unified School District.
“We are still working to determine which specific schools,” Capistrano District spokesperson Ryan Burris said in an email. “With the number of schools in our district, this will take time and we didn’t want to delay our communication to parents.”
Newport Mesa officials said the flutes may have been given to some Sonora Elementary School students in Costa Mesa through a contracted vendor that offers music programs.
“Our initial research indicates that the impact on NMUSD is limited to four Sonora Elementary School classrooms. No other NMUSD schools would be affected,” the email states.
Some districts have requested that families who find these flutes remove them from the child’s possession and place them in a sealed paper bag for possible evidence preservation.
Representatives from the state attorney general’s office said, “As part of the investigation, we are working with local law enforcement and school districts to collect instruments, which the California Department of Justice will have to deal with.”
Fountain Valley Police Sgt. Kham Vang confirmed that the department picks up the flutes at its station at 10200 Slater Avenue.
Capistrano District officials were still working with law enforcement to determine how to collect the instruments, which the district considers “unsuitable and unsanitary” for a child to come into contact with.
“We understand this is deeply upsetting to our families and you may be looking for more details than we can provide,” Burris said.