The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) released a report Friday regarding three instances of abuse at the Goddard School in Reading. The school fired one of the teachers implicated in the allegations.
One of the accused educators, identified only in the EEC report as "Lee," allegedly put a student in the closet as a punishment, on two separate occasions. Another teacher, identified in the report as “Jessica,” reportedly changed a child's diaper "roughly.”
According to the report, on Dec. 31, 2012, Lee requested that a child enter the closet as punishment for “not listening.” The report states that when the child refused, Lee allegedly placed the child in the closet and shut the door. After 10 seconds the child let out a "yelp" and Lee opened the door, the report said. Another teacher witnessed the incident and carried the child to the front office when classes changed so the child could report what happened.
During an internal investigation, it was reported that Lee allegedly put another child in the closet in November of 2012. Lee was fired at the end of the school day on Dec. 31, 2012, but the EEC was not notified of the alleged abuse until Jan. 3, 2013.
"The main issue with the delay was that the holiday was in there," Goddard School Owner Sarah Blumenstock Girrell said. "And that’s why we were late, because of the holiday."
In addition, on Jan. 4 the school reported that the Goddard Corporate office received a call stating that Jessica "roughly" changed a child's diaper. Jessica stated that there must have been a misunderstanding, according to the report. Goddard School Director Cheryl Bracken and another educator stated that they did not have any concerns with the manner in which Jessica changes diapers, the report said.
The EEC and Department of Children and Families (DCF), conducted an investigation into the incidents. The investigation resulted in the EEC requesting that the faculty complete a training session on reporting incidents and submit a plan for corrective action. The school was cited for the following violations:
- An educator did not immediately report two incidents in which it was alleged that a teacher put a child in the closet.
- The school did not immediately report the allegations to the EEC.
- The school did not immediately remove the accused educator from the classroom.
- The program did not thoroughly document their internal investigation regarding an allegation of an educator placing a child in the closet.
- An educator used poor judgment on at least one occasion when a toddler was placed in a closet for a few seconds.
- An educator used poor judgment by bringing a child to the front office to report the incident when she could have reported what she witnessed herself.
According to Girrell, the DCF “found all the allegations unsupported.”
When asked to confirm that statement, DCF Director of Public Affairs Cayenne Isaksen declined to provide details on the investigation.