Two Schweinfurt child care facility workers on leave pending investigation
By KEVIN DOUGHERTY AND DAN BLOTTENBERGER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 20, 2011
SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Two civilian employees of the Schweinfurt Child Development Center in the Askren Manor housing area have been placed on administrative leave for what the director of the facility termed “inappropriate behavior,” officials confirmed this week.
The incidents occurred last week and concern the questionable treatment of a child, officials said.
“A parent felt something wasn’t right,” said Nathan Van Schaik, spokesman for U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt.
Van Schaik did not provide further details, but he said the individual raised the concerns with a supervisor.
Milenie Schwarz, acting director of the Child, Youth and School Services in Schweinfurt, reviewed footage from the center’s video cameras and “immediately saw reason to call the [military police],” Van Schaik said.
Schwarz declined to discuss the matter in detail because it is under investigation.
“We protect our kids,” Schwarz said Tuesday.
The father of a 4-year-old boy told Stars and Stripes his son was physically mistreated on at least two occasions over a four-hour period on April 11, based on video clips police have shown him.
The father said his son typically spends four hours each weekday at the center. He said his son has a sore jaw from being grabbed and possibly striking a table.
He said the abuse he witnessed on the videotape included a blow to the back of his son’s head and an aggressive jerking of his arm.
“When I looked at the video, I started crying,” the father said. “I was angry and frustrated I wasn’t able to protect my son.”
The incident might be linked to his son accidentally spilling milk during an afternoon snack break, the father said. In that segment of the video, the father said, the boy is seated but bent over, about to spoon up the spilled milk. A man whose job it is to deliver snacks to the children steps into view.
The man grabs the boy’s head and aggressively pulls him away, the father said. He then cleans up the spill.
CYS officials in Schweinfurt have initiated individual training sessions “reinforcing what caretakers can and cannot do,” Van Schaik wrote in an email Wednesday. There are more than 20 caretakers who work at the Schweinfurt CYS, he said. There are 153 children enrolled at the center.
Van Schaik characterized the episode as “an isolated incident.”
“According to our garrison directors,” he wrote, “no allegations or reports have ever been brought up by parents against the program or any of its staff members.”
Officials declined to allow a Stars and Stripes reporter to view the videos, citing the depiction of other children and the desire to protect their privacy.
“We’re not going to comment on the video until the investigation is over,” Van Schaik said.