More complaints about Nicaea Academy amidst DCF investigation

Matt Grant

Photo: Video by fox4now.com

More complaints about Nicaea Academy amidst DCF investigation

CREATED Nov. 16, 2012 - UPDATED: Nov. 16, 2012

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - As police and the Department of Children and Families continues to investigate a Cape Coral daycare, there are new accusations and documents that suggest the school tried to mislead parents about the investigation.

The investigation into the Nicaea Academy on Chiquita Boulevard in Cape Coral could take 60-90 days to complete, according to DCF officials. But according to Cape Coral mom Jamie Wheeler, that's not what the academy's director told her last week.

Attempts to mislead parents?

"She told me to my face," said Wheeler, "that they were cleared of all charges through DCF and Cape Coral Police Department."

According to Wheeler, she heard the director tell the same thing to another parent.

Wheeler showed Fox 4 a letter the school sent out on Nov. 6, which she feels was intended to mislead parents.

In the letter, the school appears to reassure parents by telling them: "DCF visited the school...and interviewed teachers. As we had previously stated there was no truth or evidence to these false allegations. We pray that these findings put your mind at ease."

But DCF hasn't found anything yet. Ten days after that letter was sent out, DCF confirms they are still investigating the school.

"At this point we have an ongoing investigation," said DCF spokeswoman Teresa Durdaller, "into the accusations of child abuse made against this day care."

"I didn't think somebody could lie so brazenly about something so important," said Wheeler. "I felt like I'd been slapped in the face."

Wheeler removed her 4-year-old daughter from the school and she's not the only one.

New complaints

"I think it's scary," said mother Cassey Duncan, who took her 4-year-old daughter Audrey out of the school. "We trust these people to take care of our kids."

Duncan took Audrey out after she came home from school with a red mark on her face. She filed a complaint with DCF.

"There was a red line, bruising, going from the top above her eyebrow all the way down across her eye," said Duncan, "into her cheek."

According to Duncan, the school told her a chair fell on her daughter. But Duncan says the school's director wouldn't let her watch the classroom's surveillance video.

Duncan complained to DCF that the school waited an hour and a half to tell her what happened.

"I asked why it took so long when I spoke to my daughter's teacher," said Duncan. "And she had said that she immediately requested that the director call me at work to notify me of the accident. And the director told her, 'It's just a red bump on her face. Wait 45 minutes to an hour. If it's still there then we'll call her mom."

Other complaints

On Thursday, Theresa Hill told Fox 4 that she filed a DCF complaint after her 3-year-old daughter complained she had been inappropriately touched at school. Her daughter wouldn't say if it was an adult or child.

"It started with my daughter telling me she had been touched in her no-no spot," said Hill. "When she was scared to tell me because she was afraid of being taken away something is going on."
 
Another mother, Jackie Clement, filed the third complaint with DCF after her daughter's arm was injured - she believes it to be a hairline fracture - after a teacher tried to break up an argument.

"She said the teacher yanked her arm and hit her," said Clement. "That was her story."

Clement watched the classroom surveillance video and says the teacher "yanked" her daughter's arm.

Parents on 'mission to destroy' school?

In a statement the Nicaea Academy denies all of the allegations and blames the parents.

"A group of former parents have made it their mission to destroy the director of the school and the academy," a statement sent out by the school read.

"Nicaea Academy completely and utterly denies these allegations," the statement went on to say. "We trust people will not rush to judgment but will allow the authorities to finish their investigation."

But Duncan and other parents say they're finished with the school.

"My child is my life," said Duncan. "She's all I have. And I want her to be safe."

Nicaea Academy would not comment on why they seemingly wrote in their letter to parents that DCF cleared them of wrongdoing.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the Nicaea Academy could face a fine or have their license suspended or revoked, DCF confirms.

The academy was cited for minor infractions in the past.

See past DCF inspection records

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com

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