When Jamie Cleary arrived at preschool to pick up her daughter, Brinley, she was told that her little girl had gotten hurt on the playground.
As WPBF reports, Cleary was notified by a teacher at Kings Academy Preschool in West Palm Beach, Florida, that Brinley had scratched her face while playing. But that afternoon what appeared to be large bruises resembling fingerprints began forming on the 18-month-old’s cheeks.Screenshot/WPTV
Cleary wrote an email to the school’s director claiming when her husband arrived home that evening, he was “incredibly concerned” over the marks and demanded a better explanation for how his child had been injured.
The director of the school told Cleary that a review of video surveillance from the classroom showed Brinley’s teacher trying to clear the toddler’s mouth while she was choking. The teacher reportedly had to squeeze Brinley’s face to free her fingers after the toddler “clamped down” on them with her hands.
The director reportedly told the Clearys the teacher had “saved” their daughter from choking. In an interview with WPTV, Cleary said she refused to believe the school’s response:
“I bawled when I saw that statement because it was such a blatant lie and it kind of made us have to relieve everything all over again.”
According to WPBF, Cleary’s husband had asked to see the video of the incident when the director of the school admitted to having viewed footage from the wrong date. A police report stated that surveillance video from July 27, when the incident is alleged to have occurred, reportedly showed Brinley’s teacher restraining her head backwards while forcing her to eat.Screenshot/WPTV
The report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office stated that after “pushing the child’s head back” the teacher “appeared to force food into the child’s mouth at least twice.” The report described the alleged incident further:
She was gripping the child’s face with her hand, which is consistent with the bruises I observed in the pictures.
Investigators with the state’s Department of Children and Families also reported that Brinley was seen crying and shaking in the video as her teacher loudly yelled “open up, open up,” attracting the attention of another educator who came into the room.
The school’s president, Randal Marin, reportedly refused to release the alleged video and police have stated the video is being used in an active investigation. Cleary contends before she ever saw the footage, the school director asserted the bruises were a result of Brinley choking.Screenshot/WPTV
According to WPTV, Brinley’s teacher and the classroom assistant have been terminated, but the Clearys have asked for the removal of the school director as well for not being forthcoming about the incident:
“She tells me, and I want to let you know I saw the video and I saw exactly, her words were ‘exactly’ what happened.”
As WPBF reports, multiple agencies including the Florida Department of Health have claimed the video taken on July 27 demonstrates evidence of abuse. Martin, however, sent a letter to Kings Academy parents stating there were inaccuracies in the findings by the Health Department.
The letter read in part:
In the process of clearing food from the mouth of a choking student, the teacher pinched the cheeks of the child…(causing) …temporary bruising.
Martin said the alleged action of the teacher was “not in line with the standard of excellence we expect” and notified parents of the teacher and classroom assistant’s termination.
The Clearys have reportedly withdrawn Brinley from Kings Academy and plan on filing a lawsuit. The director in question has reportedly been placed on administrative leave.