Idaho Teacher Faces Charges After Feeding Puppy To Snapping Turtle In School Classroom

Amid calls for termination, school officials say students were not present when the event took place.

Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Amid calls for termination, school officials say students were not present when the event took place.

Robert Crosland, a science teacher at Preston Junior High, located in Preston, Idaho, stands charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, after students say he fed a sick puppy to a snapping turtle on March 7 of this year. Crosland’s charge came Friday after an online petition garnered more than 188,000 signatures. A community petition also had more than 3,700 individual signatures.

According to the New York Post a significant number of concerned parents had already come forward, prompting the state attorney general to take over the case from Franklin county office of the district attorney, citing a conflict of interest. That Crosland has finally been charged comes as a relief to parents in the area.

School officials are being pressed by outraged parents to immediately fire Robert Crosland, with or without trial, as they feel the accusations against the teacher in question are entirely too disturbing to potentially continue. School officials, however, are not so quick to abandon loyalty to a teacher they believe is passionate and dedicated to his students. Declining to fire Crosland, officials representing Preston Junior High say they will not act until a decision in court has been made. School superintendent Marc Gee said he had not yet seen all the details but was not prepared to make a statement until he sees them.

Often regarded as man’s best friend, feeding one of these to a snapping turtle will make anyone unpopular, in any state. Not just in Idaho. Chelsea Guglielmino / Getty Images

According to Fox News, back in March when these accusations were first made, a representative of the Preston School District states that the event took place after students had long been dismissed, a report which differs from the New York Post‘s headline.

“The event occurred well after students had been dismissed and was not a part of any school directed program. We emphasize that at no time was the safety of students or staff compromised.”

Some parents referred to the feeding as inhumane, others found it to be a reasonably natural process that could teach children about the food chain. According to biology, a snapping turtle normally eats fish, birds, insects, and even other turtles. Moreover, they are prone to eating dead animals as well. A sick puppy—while unlikely to be found out in the wild—would possibly be appealing to a snapping turtle, under the right circumstances. The snapping turtle in question was euthanized by state officials, as such animals are not only non-indigenous to the area, they’re also considered invasive.

Before such morbid subject matter made national headlines, Preston, Idaho was largely famous for having been the original setting and shooting location for the 2004 cult hit comedy Napoleon Dynamite and is the hometown of the movie’s creators.