An Illinois preschool teacher and her aide have been placed on administrative leave after police say they forced children to stand naked in a closet as a form of punishment. Officials say the teacher, who has been working for the Head Start program run by the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for three years, started using the punishment in February. The identities of the 26-year-old teacher and her 41-year-old aide have not been released.
Authorities learned about the new form of punishment after one of the young boys told his parents about what happened. Officers interviewed staff members and discovered that at least four boys had been forced to stand naked in the closet after misbehaving.
“That little boy is very brave for coming forward and telling us what was happening in his classroom,” Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Police Chief Kevin Schmoll said. “That is how we were able to discover this in the first place.”
The teacher admitted to punishing the boys, and her aide is in trouble for failing report the incident to officials.
“The one teacher said she didn’t learn this anywhere this is what she tried and felt it would calm the children down by doing this,” Schmoll said. “But it’s obviously in no teaching manual anywhere. It’s inappropriate and against the law to do this.”
Authorities plan to begin interviewing the children in April to determine if there are any more victims or if staff members used other methods of punishment to discipline misbehaving students. They are working with prosecutors and child services to decide if charges will be brought against the teacher or her aide.