The Worst Day Care in the World?
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CN) - A teacher's assistant claims in court that she was fired for reporting an abusive teacher who force-fed children until they vomited, pinched a boy's penis, and terrified her young charges in other ways.
Anna Hodgman sued J & G Learning Solutions LLC dba The Learning Experience, in Duval County Court.
The LLC is the only defendant in the Florida Private Sector Whistleblower Act lawsuit. Hodgman claims the abuse was inflicted by teacher Alicia Martin.
Hodgman says in the complaint that she was hired as a daycare teacher's assistant at the end of March 2013. Nearly a year later she was placed in Martin's classroom.
There, Hodgman claims, she witnessed Martin's multiple acts of abuse, including:
"approaching a child and in a strange voice frighten the child by saying she will 'snatch his eye balls out'";
"saying to the children, 'You're so ugly', 'I hate you', and 'You're annoying'";
"instructing the children to sit against the wall where the cameras in the daycare cut off and with a yellow foam ball have the children throw the ball at each other's face, and hit some of the children harder if she did not like them";
"During lunch, it was apparent that some of the children were scared of sausages because it's not a familiar food, and Ms. Martin would stick the sausages in a plastic glove and smack these children in the faces with the sausage, repeating 'eat it, eat it,' further scaring these children";
"Ms. Martin shoving food down the children's throats with her fingers so as to make them eat till they vomited".
On or about March 19 this year, Martin "admitted to plaintiff that she got a child to stop playing with his private parts by pinching his penis," according to the complaint.
Hodgman claims that another employee, whom she names, "was present in the room to hear this statement by Ms. Martin."
Hodgman claims she informed the school director, Tiffany Reno, of Martin's behavior within two weeks of being assigned to Martin's classroom, and asked what action would be taken.
Reno told Hodgman that Reno had recently conducted an evaluation of Martin and also witnessed threatening behavior, Hodgman says in the complaint.
After that evaluation, Martin improved her behavior with the children, but within a few days was abusing them again, Hodgman says in the lawsuit.
Hodgman claims she continued to inform Reno of the situation, adding that she saw Martin "sitting on children during naptime." She says she provided Reno with pictures of Martin sitting on the children.
On or about March 20 this year, Hodgman says, she gave Reno a written statement about Martin's actions with the children under her care.
Hodgman was fired on March 26, she says.
She seeks punitive damages for whistleblower retaliation and violations of a Florida law that states that "'no employee of a facility serving children may be subjected to reprisal or discharge' for reporting abuse, abandonment, or neglect."
She is represented by David Sacks of Jacksonville.