DCF investigating Cape Coral Nicaea Academy
DCF investigating Cape Coral Nicaea AcademyPhoto: Video by fox4now.com
CAPE CORAL - The Department of Children and Families is investigating a Christian day care academy in Cape Coral over allegations of abuse.
Fox 4 has learned the Nicaea Academy on Chiquita Boulevard in Cape Coral is under DCF investigation after three parents came forward filing separate complaints with the state alleging abuse at the academy.
In one complaint a mother alleges her 3-year-old girl was touched inappropriately in class. In a separate complaint, another mother says her daughter's arm was fractured when a teacher tried to break up a fight.
"We entrust day care facilities to take care of our children," said DCF spokeswoman Terri Durdaller. "If they are not upholding that very important responsibility we will ensure they are punished to the fullest extent of the law."
Theresa Hill is speaking out after her 3-year-old daughter said she was inappropriately touched at the Nicaea Academy. She wouldn't say if it was an adult or child.
"It started with my daughter telling me she was being touched in her no no spot,"; said Hill.
After the alleged incident, Hill says her daughter didn't want to go back.
"She would climb up my legs," said Hill, "and beg me not to leave her there."
The director of the Nicaea Academy watched the classroom surveillance video and found nothing wrong, according to Hill. But based on her daughter's behavior, Hill wasn't convinced.
"She was scared to tell me because she was scared of being taken away," said Hill. "Something is going on."
On one occasion, Hill says her daughter came home with a mysterious lump on her head that no one could explain.
"When my daughter comes home with an egg on her head so large," said Hill, "someone should know something."
A fractured arm
Hill isn't the only one who filed a DCF complaint.
Jackie Clement filed a report with DCF and police after her 3-year-old daughter Sophie came home from school crying in pain.
"She was just crying constantly that her arm was bothering her," said Clement. "I asked her what happened to her arm, she said the teacher yanked her arm and hit her that was her story."
According to the school's incident report, Sophie was fighting with another student over a purse. The teacher "took the purse out of her hand and Sophie started crying about her elbow."
Clement took her daughter to the emergency room, who referred her to a specialist. She now has to wear a cast.
"She either has a nurse's elbow or a hairline fracture," said Clement. "We're not sure yet."
Clement says the room's surveillance video shows a different story than what was in the school's incident report.
"It shows the teacher yanking her up by her arm," said Clement.
Nicaea denies allegations
DCF confirms they've begun a child protective investigation in response to three separate complaints.
"We do have an open investigating concerning this day care," Durdaller confirmed in a statement. "Since it is a licensed day care we have a dual approach because abuse has been alleged. We have begun a child protective investigation and also another investigation on the regulatory side."
After initially declining to comment directly, officials with Nicaea Academy released a statement late Thursday afternoon.
"Nicaea Academy denies all allegations against the school," the statement read, "...[and] is fully cooperating with all DCF and police investigations at this time."
The Christian academy goes on to blame a "small group of parents making false claims and reports against the school."
"We feel completely confident," the statement read, "that we will be fully vindicated."
But Clement isn't sure about that.
"I want the school closed," said Clement. "Honestly, I don't care to get a dime. I want the school to be closed."
The Nicaea Academy was found to be in non-compliance of minor infractions during a September inspection.
They are a K-8 Christian school.