A community is up in arms about a pair of Head Start teachers in East St. Louis who allegedly forced children to strip as punishment for bad behavior. They currently are on paid administrative leave, CBS affiliate KMOV is reporting.
The teachers are affiliated with a Head Art program run by Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center.
“Children would misbehave in class and the teacher would have them disrobe and… make them stand inside a closet for five or 10 minutes as their discipline,” university Police Chief Kevin Schmoll told the station. “Then, they would redress and join the class.”
Four of the 20 students in the class were subject to the unusual reprimand.
It was further reported that the children involved are 4- and 5-years-old. Surprisingly, this style of disciplinary action has been in practice since February, but police report that they only learned about it recently.
Who are these “teachers?”
One of the two teachers involved is 26, and has taught at the center for three years. The other teacher is 41 and has worked with the center for five years. The younger teacher is alleged to have staged the punishments, while the elder is alleged to have witnessed the actions, but failed to report them.
“We felt that was very inappropriate and [it’s] possible some charges could come from this.” Schmoll revealed.
Parents in the surrounding community told the station that they were outraged to learn of the allegations.
“As a mother myself, I can’t believe they would let something like this go on,” Lakysha Jeffries told KMOV.
Marquis Ginger told the news organization, “Something needs to be done to the teachers as far as what’s going on.”
The children will be interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Belleville, Ill., in the coming weeks, KMOV reported. When that happens, a representative with the St. Clair County, Ill., State’s Attorney’s office is expected to be present, according to the station.