Two Head Start teachers in Illinois were placed on paid administrative leave following allegations that preschoolers were ordered to get naked and stand in a closet as punishment.
According to KMOV, the alleged incidents occurred at Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center’s Head Start program, which is managed by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). University police alleged that four of the 20 preschoolers—ages 4 and 5—were subjected to the punishment.
“Children would misbehave in class and the teacher would have them disrobe and stand them, make them stand inside a closet for five or 10 minutes as their discipline. Then they would redress and join the class,” SIUE police Chief Kevin Schmoll explained to the news station.
The alleged punishments began in February, though law enforcement said they were alerted to the incidents last week.
Law enforcement said they learned of the punishments last week, though they reportedly began in February. Schmoll said a parent contacted police Thursday, alleging that her son informed her of the humiliating in-class discipline, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Schmoll stated that interviews with people connected to the school program uncovered that all four victims were boys.
“We are continuing to interview students, so there may be more victims we don’t know about yet,” the police chief revealed.
Police accused a 26-year-old teacher, who has worked for the center for three years, of doling out the punishments since early February. A 41-year-old aide with five years at the center is believed to have witnessed the punishment but didn’t report it, according to the newspaper.
The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office is reportedly planning to review the case before determining whether they’ll file criminal charges.