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Northfield school fires employee who allegedly gave melatonin to infant

It's against district policies to give a child anything without a parents' permission.

A Northfield school district employee has been fired after they put melatonin, a sleep aid, in the bottle of at least one infant under their care, Northfield Public Schools Superintendent Matt Hillmann said in a news release Thursday.

Staff found small tablets in the infant room of the district's Early Ventures childcare center at the Northfield Community Education Center on Monday, the release said. The district "promptly" started an investigation, which revealed that an employee put tablets into at least one infant's bottle. 

"It appears likely the tablets were placed in more than one child’s bottle, but we aren’t able to confirm that. After conferring with the police department, we suspect the tablet was a child-sized dose of melatonin," the release said. 

The employee, who wasn't identified, was immediately fired. State guidelines and district policies prohibit the administration of any substance without a parents' permission.

"Northfield Public Schools is angered by the appalling actions of this rogue former employee. We place the highest priority on trusting relationships with our community and understand this isolated incident may impact that trust. We will work diligently to rebuild that trust with our community," Hillmann said.

The district has reported this to the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the police department, the release said.

"We are not aware of any direct impact on the health of any children," the release said.

The families who were potentially involved have been contacted and the district says it will support them as they "absorb the emotional impact of this experience and provide available resources."

Melatonin is a hormone the body produces that plays a role in sleep, the Mayo Clinic says. There are melatonin supplements, which have become quite popular in recent years, to help people fall asleep. They are generally considered less habit-forming and safer than other sleeping pills. 

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