School officials allege flutes used in children’s music program may have been contaminated with semen – Orange County Register

Several southern California school districts released updates on Saturday, September 30, regarding a federal and state investigation into someone suspected of distributing bodily fluid-contaminated craft flutes to children in school music programs. A Saugus Union school district official said he was told the fluid was semen.

The Fullerton School District and the Saugus District in Santa Clarita have both issued statements indicating that the state Department of Justice is investigating a music artist associated with Flutes Across the World, a nonprofit music program. which has also established partnerships with the school districts of Orange County and Los Angeles. as with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.

“The artist distributes a flute-like musical instrument made from PVC pipe or bamboo to students during a music class, and the allegation is that he contaminated some of these instruments with semen,” said Joan Lucid, Saugus district superintendent, in the email to parents on Saturday.

The suspect has not been identified.

State officials were investigating several flutes made from PVC pipe that were distributed to students in at least three school districts in Orange County as part of a music program. Authorities say the instruments may have contained bodily fluids. (Photo courtesy of Fountain Valley School District)

Officials in the Fullerton District said its schools’ music program was sponsored by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and involved students in grades four to six from Golden Hill and Rolling Hills Elementary Schools during the school year 2016-17.

“Although presenters in our schools are never alone with children and are always supervised by a teacher or school staff, out of caution this presenter will not be returning to the Fullerton School District,” the site said. Web. “We have been advised that this person has worked in a number of school districts across California and we have no evidence to suggest that any of our students are connected with the investigation.”

The Philharmonic Society is one of the many artistic entities that have sponsored Flutes Across the World to introduce the music program to schools, said Chantel Uchida, vice president of marketing and public relations for the group.

The group has sponsored programs in six classrooms over three years, Uchida said.

“We are so shocked and disgusted,” Uchida said of the allegations. “We will take a step back from that. There are no plans to continue it in the future. “

A statement released by the Los Angeles Unified School District said it was cooperating with investigators and “although our records indicate that this person was never a registered employee or volunteer at LA Unified, we have notified the parents and tutors from the only school who can be involved. “

According to several school district officials, a Flutes Across the World artist handed out handmade, do-it-yourself flutes made of PVC plastic pipes and a cork that can be decorated outside to students. who participated in the music program.

A phone and email to representatives of an internet group called Flutes Across the World has not been returned at time of publication. The group’s website and Facebook page were deactivated on Saturday.

Sgt. Jon Radus said the Fullerton Police Department were aware of the situation, but said all information should come from the state Department of Justice, which is leading the investigation.

Multiple messages to the Department of Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which are also investigating the case, were not returned on Saturday.

Representatives from the state attorney general’s office said on Friday, September 29: “As part of the investigation, we are working with local law enforcement and school districts to collect instruments that the Department of Justice of California must deal with. “

Saugus District partnered with Flutes Across the World in 2014, Lucid said, adding that she did not know how many students were affected.

Parents of children who received flutes as part of the program are encouraged to place them in paper bags, Lucid said. She said the plastic bags could spoil any forensic evidence. The district is awaiting news from the police on how the instruments will be collected.

The Fountain Valley School District and the Unified Districts of Newport-Mesa and Capistrano also sent messages to parents. A spokesperson for the Anaheim Elementary School District said parents were notified by letter on Friday and three of the district’s 24 schools participated in the flute program.

“There is no evidence at this time that any of our schools received these instruments or were the subject of any misconduct by this individual,” said the elementary superintendent of Anaheim, Linda Kimble.

Fifth-grade students at Courrèges Elementary School in the Fountain Valley District have received flutes that may have been contaminated, district officials said in a statement.

Officials from the Newport-Mesa Unified District said four classrooms at Sonora Elementary School in Costa Mesa were affected.

District officials have been told by Justice Department officials that the investigation involved several other districts, Newport-Mesa board member Martha Fluor said on Saturday.

“We have an arts program through the Segerstrom Center for the Arts called Arts Connect and this person was in our school about it in the spring of last year,” Fluor said.

In July, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana hosted an event with Flutes Across the World, where children decorated their own West African flute.

Bowers issued a statement calling the allegations “alarming”.

“We want to assure everyone that all presenters and external vendors are always supervised by staff when in any venue or event in the museum,” the museum said. “The accused individual is not expected to work with the museum in the future… there is currently no indication that any of our program participants are linked to the investigation.

“However, in plenty of caution, local law enforcement would like to obtain flutes for further testing. We ask families who may have had children participate in this type of program either at school or at the within the community to remove these flutes from their possession and place them in a sealed bag for law enforcement to retrieve, if necessary. The Museum is working with law enforcement to determine how they wish them. collect Please do not bring these items to the museum.

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