Parents Accuse Preschool of 'Force-Feeding' 18-Month-Old Girl & Bruising Her Face

News Channel 5

Daycare centers and schools are supposed to be places you can trust implicitly to take care of your children during the times you can't be with them. While this is true for the most part, it has also become increasingly obvious that many of these seemingly trustworthy institutions aren't doing everything they can to ensure the safety of children. Two parents recently learned this the hard way when they discovered that their toddler had allegedly been force-fed by a teacher at her preschool


When their 18-month-old daughter came home from preschool with bruises on her face, Jamie Cleary and her husband were immediately concerned. Staff at the King's Academy Preschool in West Palm Beach, Florida, claimed the child had sustained the injuries when a teacher tried to take food out of her mouth while she was choking. But a recently surfaced surveillance video appears to show a teacher violently force-feeding the little girl. 

NewsChannel 5

The video has not been released to the public due to its status as evidence in the open case, but the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, the Department of Children and Families, and the Department of Health all claim the footage shows a teacher from the preschool pushing the child's head back and forcefully holding her head back while shoving food into her mouth. 

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Shortly after the incident, but before the family had actually seen the video, a director at the school told Jamie Cleary that she had seen the footage and was confident that the school was telling the truth about the child choking. "She tells me, 'I want to let you know I saw the video and I saw exactly' -- her words were exactly -- 'what happened,'" Cleary told local NewsChannel 5.   

Even with the surveillance video suggesting a different story, the Kings Academy Preschool is holding firm in its assertion that the teacher in question was only attempting to keep the child from choking. Jamie Cleary says she's devastated by the school's refusal to admit the truth. "I bawled when I saw that statement because it was such a blatant lie and it kind of made us have to relieve everything all over again," she said.

She says that she wants to make other parents aware of what really happened to her daughter so that they can hold the preschool accountable and better protect their own children. "My point is, [the school] trying to claim this, then just show the video, show parents the video, show everyone the video," she said.

As of now, both the teacher and the assistant involved in the incident have been fired due to safety protocol violations. The director who told Cleary the child had been saved by the teacher has been placed on administrative leave. While the school's president, Randal Marin, has cooperated with authorities on the case, he still stands by his statement that the teacher was helping rather than hurting the child.

Stuart Kaplan, the Clearys' lawyer, is confident that their case will hold up in court. "This is obviously a clear-cut case of an assault and battery on an 18-month old child who obviously can't speak or defend themselves," he told NewsChannel 5.

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It is because of this that the Cleary family is planning to move forward with their lawsuit. "I just want parents to know the truth about the King's Academy and who is running the King's Academy," Jamie Cleary said. "I don't think it's a safe place, I mean these babies can't even defend themselves."

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