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Three Florida middle school students are facing felony charges for allegedly poisoning their teacher by spiking her soda with red pepper flakes, authorities said Friday.
Jayne Morgan, a language arts teacher at Deltona Middle School in Volusia County, was sickened by her soft drink on Tuesday, but the Volusia County Sheriff's Office wasn't privy to the incident until Thursday, at which point an investigation was launched, according to a sheriff's office statement.
Morgan, 52, had sent one of her 12-year-old students to the principal's office on Monday "for dumping glue into another student’s backpack and for suspicion of stealing a laptop computer," the statement said.
The 12-year-old girl, apparently angered by the punishment, hatched a plan to bring red pepper flakes from home and pour them into Morgan's drink.
Morgan first experienced shortness of breath and burning in her throat when she took a sip from her soda, the sheriff's office said. After a second sip, she poured the drink into a clear cup and noticed the flakes.
She reported to investigators that she suffered from stomach pains all evening.
Schools officials had pegged the girl who was responsible for concocting the plan, and sheriff's office investigators determined later in the week that two other 12-year-old girls were involved. One of the alleged accomplices is accused of pouring the red pepper flakes in the soda, while the other girl is accused of distracting the teacher.
The three girls are not being identified by NBC News because they are all minors.
The girl who allegedly acted as the decoy was charged Friday with tampering with consumer products and being a principal to poisoning food or water, according to the sheriff's office. The other two girls are being charged with poisoning food or water and tampering with consumer products, the statement said.
All of the offenses are felony charges.
"I want them to have a consequence that teaches them a lesson. I did not want them to be arrested and go to jail," Morgan said in a statement. "I love my students. They broke my heart. My career won't be the same."
Investigators wrote in charging affidavits that the act was apparently "done in retaliation for the teacher upholding her duties and responsibilities as a teacher, maintaining control of her classroom and attempting to protect the other children from [the student's] unacceptable behavior,” according to the sheriff's office statement.
The three students will be transported to the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Daytona Beach.