Parents upset students opened child-proof bottles at Illinois school

Prescription pills in a yellow bottle over a wooden table with selective depth of field. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Parents of students at a northern Illinois elementary school are angry after an older student led an experiment that asked their children to open child-proof medicine bottles.

Parents were not told in advance about Friday’s project at Leland Elementary School in LaSalle County. On Sunday, the principal and Leland School District Superintendent Jodi Moore sent parents a letter saying that a junior high school student had worked with some kindergartners and first graders "to gather data for a science fair project.”

“In this project the student collected data on how fast the Kindergarten and first grade students could open different medicine bottles, and at some points demonstrated to the students how to open the containers,” the letter said. “This happened without sending proper permission to parents of the students who participated in the activity.”

But Moore later told the Chicago Tribune that the older student “may have” shown some students how to open a bottle. She said the older student was not acting maliciously.

Moore said she learned the student was being supervised while modeling the experiment on online sample science fair experiments that examines if child-proof containers are authentic.

The first-grade teacher also told Moore she had to remind the older student, “no coaching," Moore said.

While Moore said she understands why parents would be surprised to find that their child can open pill bottles, “the whole purpose of the experiment is to show that child-proof isn’t always child-proof and that’s good information to have.”

However, parents expressed concern that the project could happen without their consent and about the school’s communication methods.

Matt Skorupski, whose daughter is a kindergarten student at Leland, said several parents learned of the science experiment through a video he shared on a Facebook group that showed his daughter opening a pill bottle.

Anthony Mayer, whose daughter is in kindergarten, said he the video before finding the school’s letter in his inbox.

Now, "I feel scared to let my kid out of my sight for a second,” Mayer said.

Moving forward, Moore said the school will begin requiring that permission slips be sent out for students who participate in science experiments.