DHS is investigating a metro daycare after some children say a staff member taped their hands and mouth. The disturbing accusations are coming out of The Goddard School in west Edmond.
Parents tell News 9 they learned of their preschoolers being bound by masking tape in the classroom when a little girl went home with red marks on her arms last week, but they believe this is not the first time it happened.
Liz Botello is the HR Director at the Goddard School on Western, and a mother. She questioned her 4-year-old Amanda last week, who said she too played the tape game.
“He put tape on our mouth and our arm,” Amanda tells News 9. When asked why, she replied, “Because we can’t talk anymore.”
Amanda says she was not in trouble when Mr. Chris used tape on her and at least three other classmates, but the family's attorney Jarrod Stevenson says it does not make a difference.
“This is textbook grooming,” he says. “Anybody, a sexual analyst or forensic interviewer is going to tell you that everything starts out as something innocent.”
Botello says when she brought her concerns to the school's owner Misty Terrill, the teacher was not fired. Terrill tells News 9 he has been suspended without pay, though, as DHS investigates.
A statement from the school says, in part, that this was “not a matter that involved any injury, nor any discipline or supervision issues.”
Their employee handbook states that any kind of restraints on children are unacceptable, however, whether for play or discipline. Botello says that is a critical component to a child’s development.
“In a real life situation, they encounter a bad person,” she says. “They get tied up and they’re going to think it’s okay, and if that happens we would never be able to live with that.”
This may not have been an isolated incident. In asking Amanda if this was the first time Mr. Chris had ever put tape on her, she shook her head no.
Botello knows her job is now in jeopardy for coming forward, but says she just wants to protect the students.
“I need to be able to provide for my family and the fact that I am here risking this,” she says, “for me honestly it’s more important to be an advocate for her.”
The parent who first reported seeing red marks on his daughter’s arm tells News 9 that Mr. Chris is very good with the kids and believes he has their best interest at heart. He does not want to see the young teacher fired, but does want this to be a teaching moment.
DHS will continue to investigate this case. News 9 will update this story as more information becomes available.