CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A Chesapeake daycare is under investigation following reports of alleged child abuse.
The investigation began on June 12 when the Chesapeake Department of Human Services informed Deep Creek United Methodist Church of “allegations of inappropriate discipline of children by staff members,” according to a letter sent to parents.
The letter did not detail the allegations, but noted that involved staff were put on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.
10 On Your Side dug deep into the allegations, speaking with Ted Ambrose — the church’s head trustee.
Ambrose said that the church is cooperating with DHS — and that it conducted an internal investigation, finding one instance of physical abuse of a child by a staff member. The incident involved an employee “touching a child’s neck,” and was reported to DHS immediately.
The child was a student in the daycare’s infant and toddler child care center. Two staff members have been put on administrative leave as a result of both the church’s and DHS’s investigations, Ambrose said.
But parents tell 10 On Your Side they believe the problem goes deeper than what has been reported to the public.
Sara Jacobs said that on June 11 her husband went to pick up their 2-year-old son from the daycare.
When he arrived, the child was shirtless and had a mark on his back. Jacobs’ husband confronted a teacher who told him that she grabbed the toddler by the wrist and drug him out from under a desk because he wasn’t listening.
Jacobs reported the incident to DHS on June 11 — one day before they began their investigation.
Jacobs then reported the incident to the Chesapeake Police Department on Wednesday.
Chesapeake police confirmed they are investigating two allegations stemming from the daycare center — one involving a student being drug from under a desk by a church employee. The other was referred to police by DHS and involves alleged abuse between two juveniles.
Ashley Tucker, a mother who withdrew her toddler from the daycare on Monday, said that she’s been told stories that terrify her by four different former employees.
“They are abusing children,” she said. “Slapping, holding my child down when it is nap time, pushing him to the ground for whatever reason.”
She also added that she’s noticed changes in her young son recently — that he’s been clingy and startles easily when he hears loud noises.
Another parent — who requested to remain anonymous — said he took both of his sons from the church’s childcare center more than a year ago after he became concerned about the way staff disciplined the children.
He said that after a student bit his toddler-aged son, school administrators used Tabasco sauce as a form of discipline — with the parent’s permission.
When confronted with that allegation, Ambrose said that he wasn’t aware of any instance where a teacher or administrator used Tabasco sauce for discipline; however, 10 On Your Side confirmed independently that Tabasco sauce was used regularly by the school to discipline children who bit.
“We don’t want children in our care and feel they are not in a safe environment,” Ambrose said.