Photo of child taped to bed at N. Texas day care alarms parents

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by JIM DOUGLAS / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 9:04 AM

WILLOW PARK, Texas -- Parents came Thursday night for a face-to-face with the director of Heart2Heart Montessori Academy in Willow Park in Parker County.

The meeting was prompted by a photo circulating among parents showing a child secured to his napping mat by two strips of duct tape over his blanket; one near his feet, the other near his shoulders. A now-former worker at the school in Parker County snapped the photo this week out of concern.

Parent Lorrie Almquist said academy co-owner Pam Decker called her Wednesday, and admitted she did something similar to Almquist's 3-year-old son the same day.

“I was honestly in such shock, I had no words to say to her," Almquist said. “I was immediately angry. Upset.”

Lorrie Almquist pulled her son out of school.

"She was very apologetic, and told me it was something that probably shouldn't have been done," Almquist said. 

News 8 obtained an e-mail that academy director Ashlea Pena sent to parents. She wrote, "Mrs. Decker is devastated by a very foolish decision she made." She goes on to say the child in the photo was "in no way harmed or caused any distress."

Child Protective Services confirmed it is investigating a complaint of prohibited punishment. The academy also quickly self-reported the incident. CPS said a routine inspection in April found zero deficiencies, which a spokesperson said is uncommon for day cares.

Few parents commented after Thursday’s meeting.

"Obviously, I'm concerned,” said one mom, “but the meeting went well."

She said she's leaving her child enrolled, and that the owner who allegedly taped the children is no longer allowed at the school.

The inspection report shows the state is also investigating complaints of water being withheld, and children placed in empty rooms.

Heart2Heart Academy released a statement to News 8 Thursday, saying "The school has an exemplary performance history, and will work with childcare licensing authorities."

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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