WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There are disturbing allegations at an elementary school in Wayne, New Jersey, after a teacher is accused of abusing two young children.
CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported that a very well-liked preschool teacher at Packanack Elementary School is accused of locking at least two of her students inside a bathroom as a form of punishment a month ago. The students are believed to be 3 or 4 years old.
Parents Kristin and Matthew Paladino said they didn’t learn about the incident from the school, that they found out from a state investigator.
“I was shaking thinking, ‘Could my daughter have been the one in there?” Kristin Paladino said. “I can’t imagine.”
The Paladinos said an investigator from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families’ Institutional Abuse Investigative Unit showed up unexpectedly at their home on Monday.
“He said there was an incident with another child. He was put into a bathroom as disciplinary action,” Matthew Paladino said.
“You are not permitted as a teacher to punish my child by throwing them in a bathroom and closing the door and holding it shut or locking it until they calm down or comply,” Kristin Paladino said.
The parents said the teacher had been absent from class since June 8. Students were told the teacher was sick, but the Paladinos said school principal Roger Rogalin finally called them Monday after the state investigator left their home and informed them the teacher was never sick, that she was suspended.
“I understand that there are certain steps that need to be taken, but four weeks since this has occurred? And they wait until four days after school lets out when nobody is available to be contacted? Unacceptable on all levels,” Kristin Paladino said.
Rogalin wouldn’t speak to CBS2 and ran out a back door to avoid Sanchez’s questions. Wayne Township School Superintendent Mark Toback confirmed the investigation of misconduct, but added, “The District cannot comment on personnel matters.”
“My daughter and son are attending school and are in a district that don’t feel it important to make parents aware. That’s the real problem,” Kristin Paladino said.
The family said their daughter was a student of the teacher under investigation for the last two years, but they don’t believe she was inappropriately disciplined.