Four-year-old says Texas teacher put him in ‘monster closet'

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by Jeremy Desel / KHOU.com

kens5.com

Posted on May 24, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Updated Thursday, May 24 at 4:06 PM

HOUSTON—A parent at Varnett Charter School says her 4-year-old child, who is in pre-kindergarten, was locked in a dark closet for laughing in class.

Kendrick was one of several young students to be placed in the locked closet for five minutes at a time.         

The kids say they were told it was not just any closet.

“There is a monster in there!” Kendrick said.

“They just referred to it as the monster closet,” said Kelicia Johnson-Chaney.

The boy said his teacher told him a monster was in the closet.

The teacher, and a teachers aid, are accused of not just telling the story, but allegedly putting several three and 4-year-old children in the dark janitor closet for five minutes at a time as punishment for acting up in class.

The children said they held the door closed with their feet while the children cried inside.

“I don’t like going in the closet. Because it is scary,” Kendrick said.  His mom said he got so upset he vomited and had to go home from school.

She said she cannot believe the situation.

”You are taking a 4 year old and putting them in a dark closet. That’s like torture. That’s a torture even to an adult that is afraid of the dark. Who locks anybody in a closet?” she said.

She said she is pulling her boy out of Varnett Charter School.

“They are very serious allegations and they are certainly a violation of our policy,” said Dr. Annette Cluff the founder and superintendant of Varnett Charter school.

Cluff said the school disciplinary policy for the pre-k level is time out.

“I was appalled, and because I was not here to immediately investigate that made me more infuriated to know that this had happened,” Cluff said. She said that is why she immediately suspended without pay the teacher and teacher’s assistant.

School administrators said that as part of their investigation they will be talking to all of the students in the class, but that is not all they will be relying on. There are also video cameras in the classroom.

If the allegation is upheld Cluff said the teacher and the assistant will be terminated.

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