A Lee's Summit mom is suing a childcare center over an incident that came to the state's attention after it was posted on Instagram.
The post in question was made in April. It shows a 2-year-old girl tied to a cot by a blanket around her waist. The caption says, "This is what happens when you piss me off during nap time! Get tied to your cot!"
The poster was 24 years old and worked at Elite Start Preschool as an assistant at the time. She worked there with a teacher who told investigators she knew about the blanket being tied around the toddler's waist, but wasn't aware the photo had been posted anywhere.
Elite Start immediately suspended the assistant then fired her the next day, after the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services completed its investigation.
KCTV5 left messages with both the mother's attorney and the attorney's assistant. No one responded with a comment on Thursday.
The investigation began with a telephone call to the Missouri Section for Child Care Regulation on the day the incident occurred. The report, which is public record, indicates the caller's name was withheld by request.
The assistant director indicated the child had a history of not wanting to nap.
The teacher told investigators the child was rolling off the cot that day and trying to get up. She said the girl got out of the blanket herself, after about five minutes. She added that the child was not upset, even giggled a little.
The assistant said the blanket was not tight and the child got out of the blanket in about two minutes.
Both indicated they were "just playing" or "just joking around."
Local mom Rhonda Wade considered the social media post a much bigger issue than the incident itself.
"I assume my child would have done the same thing," Wade said. "She would have probably giggled and thought it was funny. I would have been more upset that her face was out there without my permission. There really needs to be education on those kinds of things."
Amy Monteil, a mother of four, considered every element troubling.
"It's a form of discipline that's inappropriate and posting about it is very inappropriate," Monteil said. "That's just too much. It's almost making fun of that child and bragging about what you did."
The teacher who was there when the assistant tied the blanket and took the photo was "placed under improvement status." The assistant was fired.
The childcare center is still running. The action required by the state involves writing a "corrective action plan ... specifically targeting how to handle children's difficult behaviors as appropriate discipline."
Also required is additional staff training on such issues.
The child's mother was not home when a KCTV news team visited asking for comment on the lawsuit. The child's father said he didn't know much about the lawsuit. He did indicate he considers the director to be "a sweet lady," he doesn't think any harm was intended, that it was an "isolated incident," and a situation of "one bad apple."
The lawyer for the Elite Start, LLC sent the following statement:
"It is important to keep in mind that the young girl involved in this unfortunate situation was not physically injured in any way. As soon as Elite Start was made aware of this situation, the teacher involved was also immediately placed on leave. Once the State had a chance to complete its investigation, the teacher was terminated. It is also important to point out that Elite Start was not fined or seriously reprimanded in any way in connection with this situation. Please be advised that Elite Start did not have any problems like this with this teacher, or any of its other teachers, before this situation occurred."
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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