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Boys poison teacher: NYC elementary students put rat poison in teacher's water

Two boys from a New York City elementary school were charged with poisoning their teacher this week, after a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old allegedly put "a substance consistent with rat poisoning" in the teacher's water bottle Monday. A report Wednesday from The Associated Press says the minors were arrested and charged with attempted assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon – in this case, rat poison pellets.

Poison used to kill rats was found in a NYC teacher's water bottle.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The toxic drink was mixed up by two boys who attend Public School 315 in Flatbush, a community of several neighborhoods in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Investigators say that the teacher became nauseous and her blood pressure spiked, but was treated and was otherwise okay.

The names of the boys were not released. The school did release a statement Wednesday, stating: "We are greatly relieved that the teacher is recovering and we continue to closely monitor this situation. Ensuring the safety of our entire schools community is our priority, and while this matter is still under investigation, we will take swift and appropriate action."

The NY Post reported on the name of the teacher: Johanna Cherepany. The 62-year-old veteran teacher, according to the Post, was contacted by the mother of another one of her students, who knew that the boys had spiked her water bottle. The Post says the “pint sized punks” were searched by police, who found the poison in one of the boy’s backpacks.

NYC Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said officials are working to determine a motive, but did say the “small amount” of rat poisoning was placed into the water bottle because the children wanted to see what would happen. “My understanding is the 9-year-old wanted to see what the reaction would be,” Bratton said. “God knows where kids get these ideas.”

One person who commented openly on the incident, and even placed blame at the feet of the school's principal, was former substitute teacher 34-year-old Mussolini Mombrun, who lives near the school. Mombrum said Wednesday that Cherepany is a well-respected teacher and a good person.

“She cares about her kids. She gets the job done,” said Mombrun. “I feel bad for her. She is a wonderful person.” Mombrum said Judith Ranft, PS 315’s principal, has lost control of the kids. “It’s chaos in there. The kids are out of control. They don’t listen. They curse. I have complained but the principal does not follow-up with complaints. The kids [involved in wrongdoing] don’t get transferred and more chaos happens.”

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