Teacher Allegedly Locked Kids in Closet to Teach Them "How to Survive"
A day-care center in Brooklyn is being sued after security-video footage was found showing two employees placing toddlers in a small supply closet alone for minutes at a time.
The NY Post reports Tatiana Ilyaich, owner of the day-care center Pinocchio Children's Palace, allegedly discovered teacher Shandra Fallen, 25, and her assistant, Amellia Samuda, 34, forcing kids into the closet in June, when she heard sobs coming from Fallen's classroom. When she entered the room, she says she noticed the sobs were coming from the supply closet:
She opened the door and saw a scared young boy inside.
The teachers "started laughing," Ilyaich recalled.
"It's kind of a game we're playing with the kids," Fallen said, according to Ilyaich.
After walking in on the disturbing scene, Ilyaich says she searched through security camera footage for similar incidents. The NY Post viewed the footage Ilyaich's found, taken on May 14:
...Fallen can be seen putting one small child into the closet, which is packed with supply-stuffed shelving, and leaving him there alone for three minutes before releasing him.
She then picks out 2-year-old Mahli Mathias and guides him to the same closet before shutting him in. Seven minutes later, Fallen returns and opens the door. She steps into the closet and out of view. After about a minute, Fallen steps out and shuts the door behind her, leaving the boy inside.
Another toddler walks over and pounds on the outside of the closed door, but neither adult pays any attention.
Samuda then goes into the closet, shutting herself inside with the boy for another minute before exiting alone. Mahli is finally allowed out — 10 minutes after he was first imprisoned.
Ilyaich told the Post that she reported the abuse to authorities, alerted parents, and fired the two teachers after seeing the footage. The Administration for Children's Services and the Health Department said they investigated, however the NYPD and the Brooklyn DA's office reportedly told the Post they had no record of the case.
A Labor official reportedly told Ilyaich that Fallen told the state Labor Department, when she applied for unemployment in June, that she didn't remember the details of that day, but that it "was kind of a game, that they were teaching [the kids] how to survive if they are by themselves." Oh, fun game!
2-year-old Mahli Mathias's mom is now reportedly suing the day-care center, Fallen, and Samuda in Brooklyn Supreme Court for unspecified damages, accusing them of negligence.
According to the NY Post, Fallen's lawyer had not seen the lawsuit but told them, "We deny any wrongdoing."