An investigation of the Center for Early Childhood Education, conducted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and in conjunction with the Department of Children and Families, found that seven of the 12 employees witnessed acts of abuse and did not report the instances to a supervisor.

Four families filed a civil lawsuit in August against Emporia State, the CECE, Keely Persinger, who was the center’s former director and Kimberly Schneider, a former teacher, alleging the emotional and physical abuse of four children. The families are asking for an excess of 2.1 million in damages from the center.

The two surveys, completed in April, found multiple instances of child abuse, including verbal, physical, and emotional abuse. An employee was observed by other staff members yelling at children and telling a child “you won’t be laughing when I get to you,” according to the investigative survey conducted by KDHE.

Gwen Larson, assistant director of media relations, could not comment on whether the seven staff members ]violated university policy by not reporting the abuse.

There is not a specific section in the university policy manual that addresses child abuse, because students are not classified as children, according to Larson. The CECE operates with a separate manual, in addition to the official university one.

“There is a statue about mandatory reporting that applies to all the staff at a daycare center, as well as other categories in the statute,” said Larson.

According to the CECE handbook, “all employees of the CECE are mandated by the State of Kansas to report suspected child abuse.” The policy handbook was last updated on Jan 14., 2017, three months before the survey was conducted.

This policy is in accordance with K.A.R. 28-4-430, listed in the KDHE Kansas Laws and Regulations for Licensing Preschools and Child Care Center manual, which states that “all evidence of neglect or unusual injuries, including bruises, contusions, lacerations, and burns, shall be noted on the child’s record, and shall be reported upon discovery to the program director or, in the absence of the program director, the person designated in charge of the child care facility.”

According to Larson, the CECE responded to the survey’s results with additional staff training, inservices and education that would help clarify the policies with their staff.

“We had some situations where we had some of our own policies that weren’t being followed and had some additional training necessary,” Larson said “We did a whole lot of staff training over the summer, made sure that all the staff were aware of what our policies were, how to follow them.”

Larson could not speak on the specific policies that were not being followed by the CECE staff.

Currently, Peter Goss, of Goss Law Firm, P.C., who is the attorney for the families, is waiting for the defendants to file their responsive pleadings in each of the cases. The attorney for the state received an extension until Oct 20, according to Goss.

The results of the KDHE surveys can be found at https://kscapportalp.dcf.ks.gov/oids/Comp_details.aspx?fid=195.

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