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Originally published Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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2 Auburn students accused of spiking teacher's coffee

Two middle-schoolers spiked their first-period teacher's coffee with vomit-inducing syrup of ipecac Monday because one of the boys was mad at her for repeatedly sending him to the office, according to a police report.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Two middle-schoolers spiked their first-period teacher's coffee with vomit-inducing syrup of ipecac Monday because one of the boys was mad at her for repeatedly sending him to the principal's office, according to a police report.

The teacher at Auburn's Sequoyah Middle School, in the Federal Way School District, later told police that she had punished the 13-year-old boy for being "disrespectful and defiant."

Tuesday, a King County juvenile-court commissioner cited the seriousness of the incident in ordering both boys held in detention while awaiting second-degree-assault charges. However, she said the 13-year-old could arrange for release under electronic home monitoring.

The second boy, 14, who police say brought the ipecac syrup to school from home, may not be released because he has a prior conviction for exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl last year, the commissioner said. The teen was due to be sentenced on that charge today.

Charges were expected to be filed by Thursday, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office.

The boys took turns pouring the ipecac into the coffee mug of teacher Terese Pense, 39, while she wasn't looking because "she kept sending [the 13-year-old] to the office for things he didn't do and he was mad," according to a King County sheriff's report.

Pense saw the boys lingering at her desk and told them to return to their seats, the report says. A few minutes later, they both went to the boys' room and threw the ipecac bottle away.

The report says Pense noticed right away that something was wrong with the coffee, and then quickly fell ill and asked another teacher to take over her class.

Pense drove herself to a hospital for treatment, the report says.

The boys almost immediately bragged to a classmate about their stunt, and by third period they had been called to the office, where they were arrested by sheriff's deputies. Both were booked into the King County Youth Service Center.

Both boys were expelled from the school, said Deb Stenberg, a spokeswoman for the Federal Way School District.

As for Pense, "my understanding is she's doing fine and recovering at home," Stenberg said. The police report says she wants the boys prosecuted.

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In court Tuesday, the older boy's tearful parents declined an opportunity to address the court commissioner, but the younger boy's mother said her son is a "really good kid."

"He doesn't get in any trouble," she said. "He doesn't pose any harm to the community."

The older boy was charged in juvenile court in February with exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl sometime during 2008, according to court documents in that case. He pleaded guilty to indecent exposure, and prosecutors had been recommending that he serve nine months of probation, 36 hours of community service and undergo a sexual-deviance evaluation.

Ipecac is made from the dried roots of the ipecacuanha plant, a flowering plant native to Brazil. It is available over the counter, and parents traditionally have kept it on hand in case a child swallows poison.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics now advises against using ipecac at all because it can do more harm than good. It has sought to have the drug sold only by prescription.

Overdoses can cause uncontrollable vomiting, irregular heartbeats and breathing problems, among other serious effects.

In a case in April 2007, two Bainbridge Island 12-year-old girls were charged with third-degree felony assault after they were accused of trying to poison their teacher with strawberry lip gloss.

According to the charges, the girls, knowing their teacher, Kasey Jeffers, had a severe allergy to strawberries, put the lip gloss on her water bottle and coffee cup. The girls wanted to make their teacher ill to get out of a progress report, police said.

When the teacher drank from her cup while teaching a class at Sakai Intermediate School, she had a minor reaction to the strawberry lip gloss and suffered from watery eyes and shortness of breath, according to Bainbridge Island schools. She countered the symptoms using Benadryl and went home early.

Seattle Times staff reporter Sara Jean Green contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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