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State Agencies Investigate Day Care After Child Allegedly Sprayed With Bleach
Updated May 5, 2013 12:13 AM
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(FRANKLIN) - Two state agencies have launched separate investigations into a Johnson County day care after a mother complained that her son was sprayed with bleach by an angry teacher at the facility.

Stephen Dean, of staff reports, the mother showed state inspectors a long-sleeve shirt that her son was wearing, saying it was discolored and splotched from the chemical, which also caused skin irritation for her son.

Sally Southard, mother of 10-year-old Jalen Ward, was employed at the Kid Company Day Care on Lovers Lane in Franklin when the incident took place last month. She told investigators she complained to her managers and urged them to notify the state, but she claims she was fired when she pushed the issue.

Her son told state investigators that he had interrupted a new teacher, causing her to become angry. He said she then turned and sprayed him with a bleach solution in response to his interruption.

A second employee at the day care wrote a letter stating she had witnessed the event, and that letter was turned over to state investigators as well.

Separate investigations were confirmed by Child Protective Services , which investigates abuse and neglect of children, and the Indiana Department of Family and Social Services , which licenses day cares.

Southard said she was fired on trumped-up charges after she confronted her managers about leaving the employee around children and failing to notify the state.

She said she had just gotten a performance raise of 50 cents per hour, yet she was handed paperwork that showed she was being fired for talking on the cell phone and yelling at a child. She said the incidents on her firing paperwork were back-dated to reflect that they had occurred earlier.

The Indiana Administrative Code requires that any day care must immediately notify the state of any allegation of staff abusing or neglecting a child.

Inspection records from FSSA show that Kid Company Day Care has been sanctioned twice in the past for failing to notify the state about incidents affecting children.

On Oct. 18, 2010, seven citations were issued, including one for delaying a report of abuse or neglect. On Dec. 20, 2010, the facility received five citations, including one for failing to notify the state that a child had been forgotten on a bus, which is considered by state law to be possible neglect.

On Oct. 21, 2010, FSSA records show that five citations were issued against Kid Company Day Care over its discipline of a child. State inspectors ruled that an employee inflicted physical discomfort or injury and that the discipline was illegal in that it was "harsh" or "frightening."

State records also show numerous instances where FSSA inspectors found no problems during routine visits, including one inspection in December.

The day care's director said the problems occurred under previous managers.

The director of Kid Company Day Care , Elaine Roldan, said she did not report the bleach spraying incident to the state because she did not consider it a formal complaint.

Roldan said the child was not sprayed out of anger or for punishment.

She said, "The teacher was cleaning the table. This child has behavioral issues and was mad at the teacher. The teacher sprays a table, wipes it down, sprays a table, wipes it down, so as she sprays the table, he threw his hand on the table.

Her staff then retrieved a bottle marked "bleach" from a nearby room. The spray bottles are kept in each room for disinfecting surfaces.

One employee then pulled the trigger several times to spray the solution on her own grey slacks.

"It will not bleach our clothing," said the unidentified employee.

Rolden then added, "It won't do anything to her clothes," adding that the solution is watered down to the point that it is harmless. She said only one tablespoon of bleach is added for each gallon of water, so she indicated that none of her spray bottles could have caused the extensive damage to the child's shirt that was reported to state investigators.

Roldan said it's a matter of a disgruntled employee only calling the state after she had been fired.

She said her day care has yet to be contacted by either state agency about this episode, but she said the entire ordeal was documented and the paperwork preserved.

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