http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/04/12/centerpointe-preschool-former-employee-sued-by-parents-of-bound-child


Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 12, 2013

Centerpointe preschool, former employee sued by parents of bound child

Preschool also fined for March 12 violation for allowing former staffer to pinch child

by Glenn Wohltmann

The parents of a 2-year-old who was bound with tape while in the care of Centerpointe Christian Preschool have sued the school and the woman who allegedly bound the child.

The civil case was filed in Martinez on March 21. It alleges that Angela Calcagno was unlicensed and unlawfully employed by the school. She is no longer employed at the school.

"This complaint stems from Calcagno's untenable practice of 'hogtying' (i.e., binding the hands and feet with tightly applied masking tape) children who could not sleep during naptime," the lawsuit reads.

The parents of the child, through their attorney, also claim Calcagno remained employed at the school even though the school's administrator knew she was not licensed. The parents' names have been withheld to protect the identity of the child, who is called by the fictitious name Jane Roe in the lawsuit.

"Centerpointe Church and Preschool's principal administrator allowed this serious regulatory violation to occur because, due to his sexual attraction for Calcagno, he wanted her working there even though she was unlicensed," the lawsuit says. It adds there "apparently" are "collateral sexual harassment proceedings," but does not include the identity of the administrator in question.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of compensation and punitive damages, and asks for a jury trial, citing state regulations which provide rights to children, including that they not be placed in any restraining device.

According to the suit:

"Between September 2012 and March 2013, on an unknown number of occasions, Calcagno was unlawfully allowed to care for a preschool group that included Jane Roe. During this time, Calcagno engaged in the sickening and draconian practice of hogtying Jane Roe for her mere inability to get to sleep during nap time. Specifically, Calcagno, using masking tape that was available as a classroom supply, tightly bound two-year-old Jane Roe's hands and feet so she was immobilized. ... Calcagno then simply ignored two-year-old Jane Roe as she lay there helpless and immobilized, and only freed her after nap time, which was more than an hour later."

The lawsuit claims the child was bound because Calcagno viewed nap time was her personal time, "and punished and restrained any non-napping child to ensure this."

According to the lawsuit, the child's parents are seeking psychiatric intervention after her behavior changed following the incident.

The girl's behavior, the lawsuit says, "included an inability to sleep more than a few hours consecutively before waking up in a panic." She also began "exhibiting signs of stress," and became "inexplicably frightened and inconsolable."

The lawsuit claims those episodes are increasing and that the girl "exhibits fear and apprehension of 'the tape,' exclaiming such things to her parents as 'mommy, no more tape.'"

Beyond that, the lawsuit claims Calcagno "tormented" the girl's mother at a social event in March, showing off a picture of the restrained girl and "bragging that she was the one who tied up the toddler."

The lawsuit claims false imprisonment, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence against the child by Calcagno and claims Centerpointe is liable because it hired her.

It accuses Centerpointe is liable for negligence, negligent hiring and supervision, and breach of oral contract and fraud because, it claims, the school's principal assured the girl's parents the school followed the law and that only licensed providers would care for the child and that no child would be treated with violence.

"Our attorney is in the process of reviewing the (civil) complaint. We have no comment at this time," church spokesman Tim Hunt said Friday in an emailed response to questions from the Pleasanton Weekly.

The allegations made in the lawsuit are not facts, just claims. Any possible fines will be determined by a judge or jury, should it go to trial.

In addition, Calcagno has filed an appeal of the order from the DSS that deemed her a "threat" and banned her from being on the preschool's grounds.

The school closed for five days in mid-March for extra staff training and for management to review procedures after the pictures of the bound 2-year-old were shown to the child's mother.

School Director Greg Robitaille left the school in February. He was not directly named in the suit.

Until last October, the preschool had a spotless record. Then, in the period of five months, the school, based at the church on Cornerstone Court, received eight citations from the DSS, which oversees preschools and daycare centers.

Among the citations issued by the DSS was that Robitaille had been bringing his infant son to the center to be cared for by staff. He was ordered by the state not to bring his son in again.

The most recent citation came March 12 when the preschool was fined $150 for allowing an unnamed former staff member to pinch and squeeze the arm of a child. That occurred sometime in February, and was reported to the state Department of Social Services by Pastor Mike Barris after he learned of it from that child's parent.

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