Arkansas teachers have been told they can continue to reward students with candy, despite a state battle against childhood obesity in schools.

The Pulaski County School District (search) had told elementary school principals last month that teachers could no longer hand out candy or ice cream as rewards.

But state Education Department director Ken James said no such directive has been approved by the state Board of Education.

"We need to be conscious of what we are doing in terms of sugar content, but we have not dictated to schools that they cannot use those as rewards," James said.

As a result, the district told teachers last week that they could resume handing out candy. The directive was based on a misunderstanding of a new law, officials said.

The law requires schools to calculate the body mass index for each student and bars access to vending machines for elementary school students.