A Texas day care center is under fire after a staffer allegedly duct taped two children to their sleeping mats when they would not go to sleep during nap time.
Lorrie Almquist, of Cresson, Texas, said she was shocked when she received a call Wednesday from the owner of Heart2Heart Montessori Academy in Parker County and learned that her 3-year-old son and another boy had been duct taped to their sleeping mats.
Photos of a different boy wrapped in a blanket and bound to his sleeping pad by duct tape around the legs and chest had been circling among concerned parents Tuesday afternoon, Almquist said. The photos, which did not show the boy’s face, had been snapped by an employee at the school who quit her job shortly after, she said.
Though the boy in the photo was not Almquist’s son, she received a call a day later from the day care’s owner, Pam Decker, who Almquist said took responsibility for the incident, informing the mother that Almquist’s son had also been taped down.
“I felt violated and I was irate,” Almquist told ABC News today. “I couldn’t find any words to say to her. I was so hurt and saddened to think that my child had to go through that.”
Almquist said Decker had been complaining for weeks about her son not sleeping during nap time, and had even requested that Almquist buy a weighted blanket to help keep her son down during nap time
Almquist and another parent reported the incident to Willow Park Police Department and contacted Child Protective Services.
The school also reported the incident to authorities, and in an email to parents, Heart2Heart’s director, Ashlea Pena, said the children were not harmed and described Decker’s actions as “thoughtless” and “foolish.”
Pena, however, defended the school, claiming that the situation had been “extremely exaggerated by a very upset parent.” She added that “the child involved was in no way harmed or caused any distress, in fact within 5 minutes he was sound asleep with his arms tucked under his chin. And woke up smiling.”
“I think that’s ridiculous,” Almquist said in response to Pena’s statement. “Ashlea Pena has a daughter that’s less than a year old and I know she would feel the same way if this happened to her daughter.”
Almquist said she has taken her son out of the day care center.
While CPS does not investigate day care centers, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ Child Licensing Division has launched an investigation, which could last up to thirty days, agency officials said.
Agency spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said she could not release details about the investigation, except that the department is investigating claims of “prohibited punishment.” Agents were at the school Thursday interviewing parents, employees and administrators, Gonzales said.
Once the DFPS has concluded its investigation, police will launch its own criminal investigation regarding Pam Decker, said Willow Park Police Chief Brad Johnson.