Michigan teacher gives 5th graders non-alcoholic beer

LINDEN, Mich. — A Michigan teacher made a poor choice by giving non-alcoholic beer to a class of fifth graders in a history lesson, a school official said.

Superintendent Ed Koledo said the teacher allowed Hyatt Elementary students in Linden to sample O’Doul’s that had been brought to school by a student March 6 to represent ale common in the 1700s. The students were told that many people drank ale at the time because water was sometimes dirty or unhealthy.

“We talked to the teacher and said this was an inappropriate choice,” Koledo said. “There were a lot better choices to represent a colonial-era drink than what was chosen here.”

The students were allowed a small taste but none were forced to try the non-alcoholic beer, school officials said. Koledo, who didn’t identify the teacher, said allowing non-alcoholic beer into the classroom and allowing students to drink it was a mistake.

Hyatt Principal Vicki Malkaravage sent a letter to parents on Friday informing them of what happened, The Flint Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1kZSamt ). The teacher thought O’Doul’s would be OK because the label said it was a non-alcoholic beverage, according to the letter. Three students in the class also took a bottle home, she said.

O’Doul’s is advertised as non-alcoholic beer, but it contains a small amount of alcohol. Liquor Control Commission spokeswoman Andrea Miller says giving O’Doul’s or similar drinks to minors can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Michigan.

No one has been charged.

Koledo described the teacher as a “very responsible person” who didn’t intend to expose students to harm. The student who brought the beer won’t be disciplined.

“Nobody complained to the teacher, principal or me,” Koledo said. “We monitored the situation the next day. It was a dead topic so we just left it at that.”

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