Preschool teacher forces toddlers to strip and stand naked in a closet as punishment for misbehavior
Two preschool teachers have been placed on paid administrative leave at a Head Start preschool program located at Southern Illinois University after their controversial disciplinary methods.
An Illinois preschool teacher who allegedly punished the school's toddler students by getting them to strip off their clothes and stand naked in a closet as punishment for misbehaving has now been placed on administrative leave. Police were notified of the practice only after a child revealed disturbing stories to his parents.
The teacher, 26, who is yet to be identified, was granted paid leave until an investigation into the disturbing punishment practices at the Head Start preschool program operated by Southern Illinois University in East St. Louis was concluded, Daily Mail reports.
Law enforcement was about notified about the accusations only last week although the shocking practice had allegedly been taking place since early February. That said, a second teacher, 41, who witnessed the punishment and failed to report the teacher was also placed on administrative leave.
According to reports, the teacher involved in the discipline had worked at the program for three years, while the second instructor who witnessed the alleged incident had worked with the program for the past five years.
Four- and five-year-old pupils who misbehaved in the preschool class were reportedly told to take off their clothes and stand naked in a closet for up to 10 minutes, police said. It was only after a parent heard disturbing stories from her son and complained about them when the police got involved.
Speaking to KMOV4, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Police Chief Kevin Schmoll said, "Children would misbehave in class and the teacher would have them disrobe and stand them, make them stand inside a closet for five or 10 minutes as their discipline. Then they would redress and join the class."
According to the sheriff, at least four out of the 20 students in the class were forced to go through the ordeal.
"We felt that was very inappropriate and possible there’s some criminal action and some charges could come from this," Schmoll said. "The little boy who first reported it was very brave for coming forward. That is how we were able to discover this in the first place."
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, both teachers admitted to detectives that nudity was often used to discipline the children. Earlier this week, parents received a letter from the school alerting them of the "child safety violation" that had taken place in the classroom. "Under no circumstances does the program condone or tolerate inappropriate treatment towards children, family or staff," it stated.
Nonetheless, a representative with the St. Clair County State's Attorney's office is set to interview the children involved with the punishment at the Children's Advocacy Center in Belleville in two weeks before reviewing the case for possible charges.
Having said that, the distressing reports have left the entire East St. Louis community astonished.