A high school was evacuated Wednesday as authorities investigated reports that a chemistry teacher, already under arrest for allegedly helping students ingest chloroform, may have been making explosives.
Japhia Huhndorf, 34, was arrested Monday on suspicion of child endangerment after authorities accused her of helping three students at Livingston High School inhale chloroform during after-school study hall sessions.
Investigators began looking into whether Huhndorf was storing explosives-making materials based on interviews with the teacher and her students, and documents found in her classroom, said Sgt. Ray Fong, a spokesman for the police in Livingston, about 60 miles east of San Jose.
About 1,100 students were evacuated Wednesday, and a hazardous material team and bomb squad were being sent into the school to investigate. Fong did not specify what chemicals they're looking for.
"This evacuation was strictly a precautionary measure until we can find out just what's in that classroom," Merced Union High School District Superintendent Scott Scambray told the Merced Sun-Star.
Huhndorf, who posted bail in the chloroform case, could not immediately be reached for comment. A woman who answered the phone at a home number listed for Huhndorf said she didn't know the teacher.
Fong said the three male students — ages 16, 17 and 18 — told investigators that they fell asleep or passed out after ingesting the chemical, an anesthetic that can cause feelings of euphoria but in high levels can cause unconsciousness or even death.
Investigators believe Huhndorf first ordered the chloroform this year but did not use it in her curriculum, Fong said.