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Flutes Distributed Across SoCal School Districts Allegedly Contaminated With Semen

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Federal officials are investigating a male music teacher who held workshops across several Southern California school districts and may have given out homemade flutes that were tainted with semen.

The suspect is a music teacher for a nonprofit called Flutes Across the World, and he led workshops where students made and decorated homemade flutes out of PVC pipes. Flutes Across the World has partnerships with Orange County and Los Angeles County school districts, as well as the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, according to the Orange County Register. The workshops were supervised by district officials, according to the L.A. Times, and the suspect was an independent contractor at all locations. The workshops occurred with students as young as elementary-school age. The suspect's identity has not been revealed.

In a statement, L.A. Unified School District says the volunteer affected at least 13 school districts, but there are no records he ever was an employee or registered volunteer with LAUSD. Despite this, there may be one LAUSD school that was involved, and the parents and guardians of said school have been contacted. "We are deeply disturbed by these allegations and remain committed to the safety and well-being of all of our students," the statement read.

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School officials issued statements late last week that an investigation was under way and that they will be cooperating fully with law enforcement. The investigation is being conducted by the California Department of Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, according to the L.A. Times. It is unclear how the investigation began or how it became clear the flutes were contaminated. The Department of Justice told the Times that "school districts and local law enforcement will be providing further information to parents regarding the collection process of the instruments.”

Two of the school districts are offering conflicting information to parents about how to handle the situation, however. Saugus Union School District requests parents collect the flutes and place them in a sealed paper bag before calling the Sheriff's department, whereas the Fullerton School District in Orange County advised parents not to collect the flutes.

The Flutes Across the World website has been offline since Sunday. The archived version shows it's a nonprofit based in Ojai, CA founded by composer and musician John Zeretzke. It provides local and international music programs founded on "supporting flute and wind music of indigenous cultures and people around the globe," according to the website.

Chantel Uchida, vice president of marketing and public relations for the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, told the O.C. Register "[w]e’re so shocked and disgusted," and "[w]e will be stepping back from this. There are no plans to continue it in the future.” The Society sponsored programs with Flutes Across the World in six classrooms over three years.

The investigation is prompting concern from parents of students in the school districts. "Sick to my stomach, couldn't sleep at night. My stomach is still turning. I tried to reach out to other parents who may have not heard about it," a parent named Gina told ABC 7. “My kids have brought these flutes home. They’re putting their mouths on it, and they’re playing with these instruments,” parent Tudy Balta told CBS 2. “And for someone to contaminate it with their bodily fluids, that’s disgusting. My kids could’ve gotten sick," she added.