SEMINOLE, Okla. (KFOR) – Three former employees at a Seminole day care are facing charges after an investigation by Seminole Police and the Oklahoma State Department of Human Services.
Two of the alleged suspects have court dates this month.
“There’s a lot of good people that work in daycares. This is just a horror story,” said Lt. Christopher Ayers, with the Seminole Police Department.
Former Tri-City Academy teacher, Lisa Carter, is facing 16 counts of child abuse.
Her motion docket is set for February 8th.
Last February, Seminole Police said DHS was tipped off that Carter allegedly bit a student.
Court documents show investigators questioned the then-director of the daycare, Jennifer Halsey, and the then-assistant director, Kaitlin Dunn.
The report said Dunn told investigators she and Halsey heard about the biting and “freaked out and got quiet” after they watched the surveillance videos capturing the alleged biting.
“We found that the DVR from this, that records every classroom, overrode after seven days,” said Lt. Ayers. “These two knew that that would happen, and it’s believed that that’s why they didn’t report it.”
According to court documents, investigators also learned Carter allegedly “had previously grabbed the child by the ear and pulled her across the room.”
A witness told investigators they were instructed not to tell anyone.
Documents show the Director and Assistant Director did not contact DHS or punish Carter.
Halsey and Dunn are now facing child neglect charges.
Halsey’s preliminary hearing is set for next week.
DHS investigators and Ayres then sifted through the surveillance video available.
“It was, it was severe,” said Ayers. “Anything that happened before that, we don’t know [about]. And that’s scary.”
Ayers wrote in his report there were too many instances to detail, “but the ones listed are the most concerning.”
The lieutenant details multiple accounts of Carter slapping a child in the face, on the forehead, arm, and buttocks. He also alleges Carter squeezed a child’s face multiple times and lifting them off the ground by their arms.
Ayers said he saw Carter grab a child by his “ankle and arm to lift him and dragging him back to the chair.”
Two days later, investigators allegedly saw Carter “fling him face forward on to his stomach and drops him on to his nap mat.”
Investigators said they also saw Carter grab a little girl who was under a table by the leg, “and violently dragging her out from under the table. The child hit nots only the table but another chair with multiple parts of her body. She instantly begins to cry and grabs her left arm… she then tries to run away from Lisa.”
“The child with the ponytail was probably the worst of all the incidents that we found,” said Ayers.
The affidavit shows Carter allegedly grabbed the little girl by the ponytail, yanked her towards the ground, up off of the ground, and “pulls her to the side before throwing her forward by her hair.”
“Pushing her head down on the table, things of that nature,” said Lt. Ayers. “It was definitely not how a child should be handled regardless of as a parent or a caregiver.”
As for the original biting accusation, those charges have been dropped. Police said the child’s parents told Carter to bite their child back after the child bit other kids.
News 4 reached out to Carter’s and Halsey’s attorneys, but did not hear back from either.
We also called Tri-City Academy, we were told “no comment.”
News 4 was unable to reach Kaitlin Dunn.
The Oklahoma Human Services sent News 4 the following statement:
Oklahoma Human Services works closely with child care programs in the state to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children in their care and to monitor for compliance with licensing standards. On Feb. 15, 2022, the agency received and later substantiated a complaint against Tri-City Academy for inappropriate discipline, not reporting suspected child abuse and several other non-compliances found during the investigation. Staff involved in these complaints were terminated. Oklahoma Human Services has continued monthly monitoring of this child care program since the incident and all information related to their facility monitoring file may be found on our Child Care Locator at http://www.publicview.okdhs.org/CCMASSPublicView/Default.aspx?CaseNumber=K830052389. We encourage all Oklahoma parents to use the Child Care Locator when they are selecting or monitoring child care programs.
“Pay attention to your children. Some of the parents noted later that they noticed different behavior in their children, but they didn’t know what it was,” said Ayers.