Juneau children received floor sealer instead of milk during summer school program, parents say

Sít’ Eetí Shaanáx – Glacier Valley School on June 14, 2022. (Paige Sparks/KTOO)

Parents say they received a call Tuesday from administrators of the RALLY summer school program in Juneau after their children were given floor sealer instead of milk to drink for breakfast.

Juneau School District officials say 12 children and two adults drank the sealant.

The Rally program is aimed at children from 5 to 12 years old. The incident happened at the Sít’ Eetí Shaanáx – Glacier Valley School.

Barry Nydam’s 7-year-old daughter drank some of the sealer. He said he was shocked and furious.

“I don’t see my daughter going there anymore,” he said. “It would require the people running it to be taken out and new people running it.”

His wife, Rhyan Nydam, says she received a call from a program administrator around noon, hours after the incident. And initially the parents heard that it was paint thinner in the milk, not putty.

“She called me and said there were traces of thinner in the drinks,” she said. “And I’m just like, ‘what does that mean?'”

A box of floor putty
A photo of a package of Hillyard Seal 341. The photo was given to parents by a RALLY program administrator.

The sealant was a product called Hillyard Seal 341. Its safety data says he “expects there to be a low risk of ingestion”.

Nydam was told that the administration removed the children’s cups and called a poison control center, then waited and monitored the children.

Nydam says he was told no one needed to be hospitalized.

“I can’t believe it took this long, even just to tell me, you know?” If I had wanted to drive my child to the hospital, I wouldn’t even have known about it,” she said.

Nydam says when she asked for more information, administrators told her the issue was being investigated. She says her daughter is doing well so far, apart from a stomach ache.

The RALLY program did not respond to KTOO requests for comment, but at a previously scheduled Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Bridget Weiss confirmed the incident was under investigation and said said the Juneau Police Department was involved.

“It’s literally happening as we speak, so we can understand exactly what happened, how it happened. Obviously we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she said .

Weiss said the liquid was mistaken for milk.

“Which seems hard to believe, but if you’ve used something similar yourself, it’s amazing – it’s a white, milky liquid,” she said.

She called the incident “worrying”.

[Sign up for Alaska Public Media’s daily newsletter to get our top stories delivered to your inbox.]