Prosecutors in March filed criminal charges against 59-year-old Deborah Gratz after a co-worker at Morgan Hill Kiddie Academy reported seeing her spike children's sippy cups with crushed sleeping pills one morning before work. While none of the children ingested the pills that day, prosecutors said they don't know whether the kids had been given such doses in the past.
Gratz, a Hollister resident, faces attempted child endangerment and assault charges due to the potential harm to the children. The teacher was in charge of about 10 kids between 1 and 2 years old, and colleagues found residue believed to be from an over-the-counter sleep drug in five sippy cups after one of them reportedly spotted Gratz tampering with the vessels.
The family of an 8-year-old boy filed a claim in February alleging the boy's third-grade teacher at Antioch Charter Academy II duct-taped his mouth shut and that another teacher punished him by placing a chair over him and sitting on it in separate incidents. Another student's hands were duct-taped teacher Michelle Mankewich in November,¿ the claim alleges.
All four charter school employees who witnessed or learned of the incidents failed to perform their mandated reporting duties and notify authorities about them, the claim alleges. The charter school principal -- the mother of one of the teachers alleged to have abused the boy -- conducted an internal investigation that found no wrongdoing.
The Antioch boy, through his mother Luvy Torres, filed the claim against the Antioch district, the charter school, The Learner-Centered School, Inc. (the nonprofit that operates the school), Mankewich, teacher Marianne Dubitsky, teacher Julie Fajeau and Principal Jeannie Dubitsky alleging they violated his constitutional rights, assaulted him and discriminated against him.
Centerpointe Christian Preschool is being investigated by police after a former employee allegedly tied up a 2-year-old girl for refusing to take her nap, then later showed off photos to other teachers, including the child's mother.
A complaint filed March 5 with the Department of Social Services alleges that a former teacher bound the child's wrists and ankles with masking tape, then made her sit on a cot while she took a photograph. According to a church statement, nobody knew about the incident until months later, when the employee pulled out her cellphone at a social gathering and showed photos of the child to two current staff members. One of the teachers who viewed the photo was the mother of the child in the photograph.
The incident was reported by the parent to police on March 4, and a complaint was filed with the Department of Social Services the following day. According to the complaint, the exact date of the incident is unknown.
The same Pleasanton preschool came under fire again, following reports that a teacher there had pinched a child's torso in February.
According to a complaint filed April 2 by the California Department of Social Services, a young student at Centerpointe Christian Preschool "was pinched on his side and had his arm squeezed by a staff member."