FORT MYERS, Fla. – A teacher at a daycare center on Sanibel Island in Florida has been fired after a toddler went home with a message scrawled on his torso, which the director of the center called a breach of professional ethics.
The mother of the child pulled both her children from the center.
“We are aware of the incident at the school, and we are terribly sorry for the distress it has caused the family involved as well as all of our families. It was a breach of our professional ethics on the part of the teacher,” said Cindy Carter DeCosta, executive director of the Children’s Education Center of the Islands.
“I’m so beyond frustrated,” said Heather Chisum, the mother of the children. “I will no longer take them there.”
But by Tuesday afternoon, in the wake of the apology and firing, Chisum was rethinking her decision, mainly due to no other available child care for a toddler her son’s age.
Chisum, 23, posted photos of the writing on her son Milo’s torso on Facebook Monday night.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Children and Families said the agency is looking into the incident.
Also investigating is the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, which handles contracts for low-income and at-risk educational services involving organizations like the Sanibel center.
“No way, no how is this appropriate,” said Susan Block, CEO of the coalition.
“Our staff will investigate,” she said. “I suspect in any group of individuals you’ll get one bad actor. That’s what we will investigate for assurances that it won’t happen again.”
Chisum said she had no idea her Facebook post would blow up to garner upwards of 26,000 shares by Tuesday.
“I thought just a few friends, mothers, would comment,” she said.
Now, she said, she will need to take off work for the rest of the week to find a replacement daycare for her two children.
“There’s no other place on the island for someone as young as he is,” she said.
Chisum said that the daycare her son and daughter attend had placed a memo earlier in his belongings telling her that he needed more diapers.
“I guess yesterday they wrote on his report that he needs diapers, and I failed to see that. Now keep in mind, I see several teachers at drop off and several at pick up, if I failed to see that he needs diapers a simple, ‘Hey Heather, your son needs diapers maybe you missed the report’ would have done the trick. From any of the many teachers there I see daily,” she posted on Facebook Monday.
When she got her son and his sister home Monday, she found a message in what looked like felt-tipped marker scrawled across the blond-haired boy’s torso.
“But instead, I change his diaper this afternoon AND SEE THIS WRITTEN ON MY SON WITH MARKER. You can’t even see all of it in the pic.. it says, ‘Mom I’m out of diapers pls read my report’. I’ve scrubbed it with several baby wipes and it’s not coming off …,” she said on the social media site. “In the very worst case scenario, I can’t see anything other than ‘need diapers’ needing to be written. Why a big long message needed to be written across my sons stomach is beyond me.”
A spokesman for the Sanibel Police Department said no report had been filed about the incident.
Follow reporter Michael Braun on Twitter: @MichaelBraunNP
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