It was reported to police last week that two Head Start teachers were allegedly involved in forcing students to disrobe and stand in a closet as punishment
In news that will make any parent’s stomach turn, a pair of Head Start teachers in East St. Louis have been put on administrative leave after allegations that they forced preschool students to take off their clothes and stand in a closet as punishment for misbehavior.
The incidents of alleged abuse occurred at the Head Start program operated by the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, according to KMOV News. SIUE Police Chief Kevin Schmoll gave the nauseating details.
“Children would misbehave in class and the teacher would have them disrobe and stand them, make them stand inside a closet for five or 10 minutes as their discipline. Then they would redress and join the class,” he says.
In what world would any teacher think that’s remotely acceptable?
Chief Schmoll says four of the 20 students in the class were allegedly abused in this manner and all are ages four or five. He says the punishments have been going on since early February with the abuse being reported to police last week. “We felt that was very inappropriate and possible there’s some criminal action and some charges could come from this,” he says.
The teacher who is accused of putting the sickening abuse into motion is 26 years old and has been teaching at the Head Start center for three years. The other teacher, age 41, was also put on leave for allegedly witnessing the children disrobing and not reporting the other teacher for her behavior.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the children who were allegedly victims of the abuse will be interviewed April 3-5 by forensic investigators with DCFS in conjunction with the Child Advocacy Center in Belleville. The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office and police will work to decide whether the teachers will be brought up on criminal charges.
It’s hard to understand how the teachers could escape the situation without getting into legal trouble of some kind. It’s also infuriating. A teacher forcing a child to remove their clothing is alone a repulsive instance of abuse. Coupled with making them stand alone in a closet? Totally unconscionable.
This story of teachers abusing the children in their care joins others including that of an educator who taped a special needs student’s mouth shut because “she won’t be quiet.” While the number of teachers participating in such appalling behavior is incredibly small, it’s still crucial that it’s reported and dealt with as swiftly as possible by law enforcement.
Because when this kind of thing happens, it goes to the heart of every parent’s worst fear — that the person being trusted to care for their child is doing the exact opposite. It’s the ultimate leap of faith to put your little one in the care of another person and when that trust is violated in such a horrific way, it’s literally unthinkable.
Hopefully, the professionals charged with interviewing the kids who were allegedly abused by this teacher will be able to help them work through the horrifying situation. And hopefully, law enforcement will see to it that these teachers never have access to children again.