• Crime & Courts

Elementary school teacher arrested for putting bleach in school lunch

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The municipal Mizutani-Higashi Elementary School is seen in Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture, on Friday.

SAITAMA — A 24-year-old elementary school teacher was arrested Friday for allegedly putting bleach in the curry to be served to children for lunch at a school in Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture, according to local police.

The Saitama prefectural police arrested Ayana Hanzawa, who works at Mizutani-Higashi Elementary School, on suspicion of having obstructed business operations. Students noticed a strange odor before serving the curry and did not eat it, the police said.

Hanzawa admitted to the allegation, reportedly telling investigators that she was stressed out because she could not control the class for which she served as a homeroom teacher.

According to a police statement, Hanzawa is suspected of having put chlorine bleach in a container of curry placed in a hallway on the third floor of the school between around 11:15 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. on Thursday. The police suspect that she bought the bleach at a pharmacy. An empty container, possibly a bleach container, was found on a shelf in a document storage room at the school.

Hanzawa was quoted by the police as saying, “I was frustrated because I wasn’t allowed to continue taking charge of the class for which I had been a homeroom teacher last school year.”

According to the investigators, she also told them: “When I put a bit of the bleach in the container, the smell was so strong that I came to my senses. I tried to scoop it out, but it was impossible.”

Hanzawa started working at the school in April 2020 and had been on good terms with her students and colleagues, according to the city’s board of education.