WEATHERFORD, Texas (CN) - Naptime turned ugly in Texas when the owner of a day care center duct-taped children to a mat, one boy's parents claim in court.
Kristi and Brad Galbraith sued Heart2Heart Montessori Academy, its owners Ashlea J. Pena and Pamela D. Decker, and the day care's general partner, RH2H Management LLC, on Tuesday in Parker County Court.
The Galbraiths claim that Decker covered their son with a blanket and duct-taped him to his sleeping mat. Heart2Heart Montessori Academy is in Willow Park, a far west suburb of Fort Worth.
Kristi Galbraith claims that on June 17, she "received an unexpected phone call from one of Heart2Heart Montessori Academy defendants' employees, Hannah Tidwell (hereinafter, 'Ms. Tidwell') advising her that her son (and another little boy) had been forcefully secured to his napping mat by duct tape over his blanket by one of the facility's owners, Pamela Decker and that she did not understand why the teachers also seemed to be the roughest on their child. Ms. Tidwell corroborated her story by texting to the Galbraiths three photographs she snapped while the child was lying down. In addition, Ms. Tidwell specifically told Kristi Galbraith that 'Ms. Decker had duct taped another little girl previously and it worked really well on her.'"
The lawsuit contains a photo of what appears to be a blanket fairly well slathered with duct tape.
The Galbraiths claim that Tidwell told them other alarming stories, for instance, that "Heart2Heart withheld water from the children, limiting them to two water breaks per day, so the staff did not need to change as many diapers. ... Ms. Tidwell advised the Galbraiths that, in addition to reaching out to them, she quit her job and notified and reported this incident to child care protective services in Weatherford."
The Galbraiths say they met with Decker after hearing from Tidwell.
"When confronted with the accusation of their child being duct taped to his nap mat, Ms. Decker - although not admitting or denying the accusations - had no meaningful response and appeared to shrug off the accusation as implausible," the lawsuit states. "It was only after the Galbraiths advised her that they had copies [of] photographs of their son duct-taped to the nap mat that Ms. Decker became visibly shaken; not distraught with what she had done but rather distressed that she had been caught. Stuttering and mumbling, Ms. Decker repeatedly apologized to the Galbraiths, saying that she should not have done this."
The Galbraiths say they reached out to other parents by email, letting them know what Tidwell had said. They claim that other parents' children had tales of abuse. One said that "Mrs. Decker hit," and when asked where, "pointed to her head and shoulders," according to the complaint.
The Galbraiths seek punitive damages for negligence, gross negligence, breach of contract, fraud and penal code violations.
They are represented by Jeffrey Rasansky of Dallas.