A Florida couple is set to file suit against the Christian preschool their 18-month-old daughter attended after discovering that the daycare facility was allegedly force-feeding the young child and sending her home with bruises.
Jamie Cleary has accused the Kings Academy Preschool in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, of abusing her daughter, Brinley Cleary, after she was told one day that Brinley had scratched her face on the playground, WPBF reported. When she got home, Jamie Cleary claims to have discovered bruises on both cheeks that resemble fingerprints.
By that evening, both Jamie Cleary and husband Chris Cleary were convinced that their child had been abused by her teacher and had written emails to the school’s director demanding answers. The director claimed that upon viewing the classroom video, she saw that Brinley had choked while eating.
As the child choked, the director said, the teacher tried to clear her mouth but Brinley bit her fingers. To break the little girl’s bite, the teacher was forced to “squeeze” Brinley’s cheeks, hence the bruises. The director praised the teacher’s actions and insisted that she “saved” Brinley, the parents said.
When Chris Cleary asked the watch the video himself, though, things got weird: the director postponed his request until after the weekend, and on Monday, she claimed to have watched the wrong day’s video and instead watched the correct day.
That video showed the teacher “pushing the child’s head back,” a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report noted.
“She appeared to force food into the child’s mouth at least twice. She was gripping the child’s face with her hand, which is consistent with the bruises I observed in the pictures,” the report continued.
The teacher and assistant were immediately fired, and the Department of Children and Families and the Florida Department of Health each launched their own investigations. They found that Brinley was crying throughout the incident as the teacher yelled “open up, open up” so loudly that another teacher ran to the classroom.
School president Randal Martin disputed the allegations, claiming that the DOH report was inaccurate: “In the process of clearing food from the mouth of a choking student, the teacher pinched the cheeks of the child… (causing)… temporary bruising,” he wrote in a letter to parents.