The Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating an incident involving a 3-year-old girl wherein it appears she was grabbed, pulled, shoved and locked in a bathroom by a worker at the Kidz Quest Academy II in Arlington.
“I was very angry,” said the girl's mother, Tina Brown. “I trusted them to take care of her -- just to see that, it hurts me.”
DCF officials told Action News Jax reporter Ben Becker that the department has two teams of investigators looking into the incident.
According to the DCF school care facility handbook, corporal punishment is prohibited, which includes pulling and rough and harsh handling of children as well as isolating a child.
Day care director Patrice Walker maintains the child wasn’t physically manhandled by the teacher.
“She tried to pick her up from behind, and she slipped and fell,” said Walker.
When Becker showed Walker a video of the alleged incident, Walker denied having any direct knowledge of it.
“You didn’t know this happened?" asked Becker.
“No, sir,” said Walker. "My understanding is the teacher said she was trying to pick her up.”
Walker then stepped away for a moment and handed Becker a memo regard the incident she denied knowing about.
The memo stated one worker was forced to resign for not following the discipline policy and another worker resigned for videotaping the incident.
Another employee of the day care asked Becker to leave and tried to grab the memo back.
Brown says her daughter was scarred by the experience.
“Even going into the bathroom at home, she says there are monsters, zombies. 'Someone is going to get me in the bathroom.' It’s very heart-wrenching," said Brown.
As a result of the incident, Lutheran Services, which runs Head Start in Florida, terminated its contract with the day care that serves more than 80 children.
DCF officials say they have a 60-day window to complete the investigation.
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