Police arrested a Texas preschool teacher after four children were hospitalized on Halloween following alleged exposure to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, according to police and the school.
Four children at Primrose School of Prosper, a preschool about 40 miles north of Dallas, displayed “unusual symptoms of illness” and were hospitalized Monday after they were exposed to THC through a teacher, franchise owner Mike Casey said in a statement.
Anisah Burks, 35, was arrested on four counts of injury to a child and one count of possession of a controlled substance, Collin County jail records show. A representative for Primrose School of Prosper confirmed Burks was a teacher there.
Burks was deemed ineligible for a court-appointed lawyer and does not currently have one, according to the Collin County District Clerk's Office.
A spokesperson said the Prosper Police Department would not release the ages of the children because the investigation involves minors. The spokesperson said that police are investigating how the children were exposed to THC and that the amount they were exposed to is unknown.
Recreational use of marijuana is illegal in Texas, according to state law.
Burks was "immediately terminated," Casey said in the statement, which added that school officials called 911 and evacuated the building after they observed the children's symptoms.
Police notified the Texas Department of Family Services Child Care Licensing Division, which regulates child care providers, a spokesperson said.
Emergency medical personnel took three of the children to a hospital, and parents picked up and took the fourth to a hospital, police said, adding that all of the children have been released.
Casey said the school was closed Tuesday and would reopen Wednesday. He said the school conducts background checks on all teachers and staff members — including Burks — and added that "this was an isolated incident involving one teacher who was immediately terminated."
"This news has been shocking, upsetting and shakes us to the very core of every principle we stand for," Casey said in the statement. "There is no greater priority to us every day than the health and safety of the children entrusted to our care."
Several similar situations have recently sent children to the hospital after they consumed foods laced with THC.
Last month, a Virginia woman was charged with murder after her 4-year-old son died two days after he consumed a "large amount" of THC gummies in May.
In 2020, at least two children — ages 11 and 5 — were hospitalized after they ate a “Medicated Nerds Rope,” a THC-laced candy, from a food bank in Utah.
In 2019, the mother of a 5-year-old boy was arrested and accused of child endangerment after her son took gummies laced with THC to his Cleveland elementary school, causing nine children to be hospitalized.
In 2018, at least five Florida middle school students were taken to the hospital after they ate marijuana-laced gummy bears, which a 12-year-old boy was alleged to have handed out during gym class.
Medical experts said the 2015 death of an 11-month-old boy in Colorado was “the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis,” although the baby was officially listed as having died from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and other experts questioned whether cannabis caused the death.
The National Capital Poison Center says “serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects can occur in children who consume cannabis edibles” and recommends that parents keep cannabis products away from kids.
Side effects for kids who consume THC edibles can include “vomiting, dizziness, difficulty walking, a rapid heart rate, drowsiness, confusion, and breathing difficulties,” along with hallucinations, low blood pressure and an abnormally slow heart rate in severe cases, according to the poison control center.
“Parents and caregivers should call poison control regardless of whether symptoms are present because signs and symptoms may not occur immediately after consumption,” it says.