December 04, 2017 06:28 PM
The Minnesota Department of Human Services has determined neglect occurred at a St. Louis Park child care center where a staff member was accused of taking cell phone video of two children allegedly hitting another toddler for 10 to 20 seconds before intervening.
According to the investigation, that center - KinderCare Learning Center in St. Louis Park - conducted an internal review which "determined that the (staff member) did not follow the facility's policies and procedures when s/he used his/her cellular telephone in the classroom to videotape the children."
That staff member, a female, no longer works at the facility, according to a company spokesperson.
And while they have not been disqualified from providing direct care services as a result of the DHS report, they have been notified that "any further substantiated act of maltreatment, whether or not the act meets the criteria for 'serious,' will automatically meet the criteria for 'recurring' and will result in ... disqualification ..."
The facility has also been issued a correction order. That order was dated Nov. 29.
According to two staff members who worked in the infant classroom at the center, the incident occurred on Oct. 12. The two reportedly told investigators they were in the infant room when the accused staff member entered 'to hang out.'
The accused allegedly asked one of the infant classroom employees if they wanted to see a 'funny' recording.
Those two staff members said the video showed the alleged victim sitting at a table while two children stood on either side and repeatedly hit the child with their fists 'really hard.'
They also alleged the staff member in question found the video amusing, and she claimed to have bribed the two children with pretzels to take part.
A third staff member, who worked with the staff member in question in the toddler classroom, was reportedly told about the video by other staff members. But that staff member had not viewed it personally and did not know if the accused staff member took it. That staff person also reportedly said the accused was patient with children and 'got along pretty well' with the alleged victim.
The accused staff member allegedly admitted going to the infant classroom that day, and to talking with the first two staff members about how some children picked on the alleged victim.
But the staff member denied making a video.
The staff member reportedly told investigators they always intervened when they observed a child hit another child. Though the staff member did say that "on occasion h/she and (the co-worker in the toddler classroom) were 'distracted' by texting on their cellular telephones and did not immediately see the children 'picking on' the (alleged victim).
"But they redirected the children when they saw it occurring."
The accused staff member also reportedly said there was 'a lot of drama' at the facility and "some of the staff persons might have been jealous because (she) received a pay raise."
According to the investigation, no video was found when the accused staff member scrolled through her cell phone files with a facility administrative staff person.
The DHS found the information provided by the first two staff members was inconsistent with that provided by the accused.
"However, given that no information was provided that any interpersonal conflicts existed between (the first staff two staff members and the accused); that it was possible for the (accused staff person) to delete the video prior to (the administrative staff person's) review of (the accused staff member's) phone; and that the (accused staff member) had reason to minimize his/her actions, it was more likely than not that the (accused staff member) videotaped (the two children) hitting (the alleged victim)."
A statement from KinderCare communications supervisor Colleen Moran said the safety of children placed in its care is the company's highest priority, and that the staff member in question failed to follow company protocol.
"In October there was an incident in our toddler room in which two children acted out," the statement read. "Instead of redirecting the children's energy into a constructive outlet, a teacher filmed the incident on her phone The safety and well-being of the children in our care is one of our highest priorities. We follow a very specific protocol anytime a concern is raised. That protocol includes:
"We work hard every day to create a nurturing learning environment for your children. This teacher failed to do that. As a result, the teacher no longer works for KinderCare."
Updated: December 04, 2017 06:28 PM
Created: December 04, 2017 11:37 AM
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