A Texas day care is under investigation for allegedly using duct tape to restrain unruly children.
After a photo surfaced this week that appears to show a child being tied down with the heavy-duty tape, parents called on authorities to investigate. The photo, which was circulated among the parents of children at Heart2Heart Montessori Academy in Willow Park, Texas, was purportedly taken by a former employee of the school.
Lorrie Almquist, the mother of a 3-year-old child at the day care, told NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth this week that her son was duct-taped to a mat because he refused to take a nap. Almquist said that she received a call Wednesday from Pam Decker, the co-owner of the day care, who admitted to taping down Almquist's son and another boy because they would not go to sleep.
"I felt violated and I was irate," Almquist told ABC News. "I couldn't find any words to say to her. I was so hurt and saddened to think that my child had to go through that."
Decker "was very apologetic, and told me it was something that probably shouldn't have been done," Almquist told WFAA-TV in a separate interview.
After learning of the alleged incident, Almquist reportedly withdrew her son from the Montessori school and contacted police. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Child Care Licensing Division has since opened an investigation. Child Protective Services is also investigating a report of prohibited punishment, according to WFAA-TV.
In a statement, day care director Ashlea Pena said:
The staff and I have the best interest of the children and parents as our highest priority. The school has an exemplary performance history, and will work with childcare licensing authorities and cooperate fully with any investigation. We do not have any further comments at this time because we do not want to jeopardize the investigation or to break confidentiality.
WFAA-TV reports that Pena also sent an email to parents saying that "Mrs. Decker is devastated by a very foolish decision she made" and that the child in the photo was "in no way harmed or caused any distress."
This isn't the first time a day care has been accused of using duct tape as a child restraint. Last year, a facility in Pennsylvania was shut down following reports that a child there was duct-taped and mistreated.