Updated June 8, 2017: A peanut butter smearing incident that occurred at a high school in Toronto is not being treated as a criminal investigation, but rather as a graduation prank gone awry.
A mix of peanut butter and cooking oil was spread throughout the stairs, floors, door handles and on some walls at Senator O’Connor College School in the city’s east end. Staff made the discovery on the morning of June 7 and two-thirds of the school’s 1,200 students were sent home that day.
Toronto Catholic District School Board spokesperson John Yan told Allergic Living that the school has spoken to police, who have decided to leave discipline in this incident to the principal and administrative staff. The school and the police are considering this a graduation prank, and Yan suggests those involved are “most likely” members of the 12th Grade graduating class.
“The police don’t see it as anything that was done with criminal intent,” said Yan. “It’s a school matter now and appropriate disciplinary measures will certainly be taken.”
A day earlier, Yan had noted the so-called graduation prank was upsetting given the prevalence of peanut allergies among students, and that this one “crosses the line.”
As soon as the mess was discovered, Yan says the school deployed a “rapid response facilities cleanup team.” Getting rid of the mess has been an expensive undertaking, involving 12 cleaners, plus their equipment and materials.
“They conducted an intense, non-stop 12-hour cleanup of the affected area. It took a while because of the oil mixed in. The team had to use a high strength de-greaser to get rid of the mess. This wasn’t a job for your typical custodian,” he said.
A health and safety manager ensured the cleanup was thorough and that there were no traces of peanut butter left.
Senator O’Connor College School doesn’t enforce any ban on allergenic foods, including peanuts or nuts. However, Yan says an awareness plan includes the school sending a letter that asks parents not to send nuts to school.
Yan hopes the school will take this as a learning opportunity. “An awareness program about why it’s important to be vigilant about life-threatening allergies would be a positive outcome.”