Ex-California teacher accused of tying up toddler

AP News
Posted: Mar 12, 2013 4:09 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Police are investigating allegations that a teacher at a Northern California preschool tied up a 2-year-old girl for refusing to take a nap and later showed the photos to other teachers.

Workers at Centerpointe Presbyterian Church in Pleasanton, which operates the preschool, contacted the state's community care licensing department last week, saying that a teacher had tied the child's wrists and ankles with masking tape, church spokesman Tim Hunt told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Church officials didn't know about the incident until the teacher — who left the school earlier this year — showed cellphone photos of the child to her former colleagues during a March 1 gathering of current and former teachers, Hunt said.

One of the teachers who saw the photo was the child's mother, who went to the Pleasanton police and told school officials three days later, Hunt said.

The 2-year-old is the only alleged victim at this time, Pleasanton police Sgt. Kurt Schlehuber said Tuesday.

Both police and church officials said it happened a few months ago. Both also declined to name the teacher allegedly involved and why she left the school.

"We are appalled and shocked that such an incident, if proven to be true, took place," Centerpointe Pastor Mike Barris said in a statement. "Every human person made in the image of God, all of the children in our care, deserves the highest degree of respect and protection from any action that dehumanizes them."

The school also will suspend preschool classes next week, while the staff undergoes training and reviews its operating procedures and state regulations, Hunt said.

Schlehuber said that the church has been "extremely cooperative" as it understands the severity of the allegation.

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"We are in the middle of an active investigation," Schlehuber said. "We believe that the allegation is against one teacher as there is nothing leading us to believe that there are any others involved."

In response, church officials have informed parents of the violation by sending them a detailed letter of the alleged incident at the preschool and invited them to a parents-only meeting Tuesday night at the school to answer questions.

On Monday, the church released a three-page statement detailing past violations. This included a teacher leaving diluted bleach spray within reach of children discovered during an unannounced site visit in October, and improper supervision of a school-aged program in January.