Testimony begins in CECE

The court case between four families and the Emporia State Center for Early Childhood Education began on Nov. 12. The families are requesting at least $2 million in damages. 

The attorney for four families suing Emporia State and two former staffers of the Center for Early Childhood Education described child abuse there as “a modern-day horror story” during opening arguments Tuesday of a civil jury trial at district court.

The attorney, Peter Goss of Kansas City, Missouri, also said that fifty days passed before parents were notified of the abuse.

Shon Qualseth, an assistant state attorney general representing the defendants, including former employees Keely Persinger and Kimberly Schneider, disputed the allegations. He urged caution because “subjective opinions can ruin lives.”

The families are requesting at least $2 million in damages.

Although the children were identified by name in court during testimony on Wednesday, The Bulletin is withholding the names of the children and their families to protect the victims of abuse.

The trial is expected to last one to two weeks.

The case began with an email sent from Megan Dorkus to Persinger on March 2, 2017 stating her concerns of abuse. The abuse consisted of screaming at the kids, grabbing their faces in her hand forcefully to grab their attention, plopping them on the ground on their bottoms forcefully, and holding them down on their cots with an arm and a leg during nap time, according to testimony.  

In Goss’ statements he emphasized the reason there is lack of medical proof because the children, between the ages of one and two at the time, were too young to report. 

“They couldn’t go home and tell mom and dad something was happening, they couldn’t go home and tell mom and dad that something was not right,” Goss said. 

He questioned the part of the mission statement of the CECE handbook that stated they “strive to provide a nurturing environment.”

“That mission statement, they did not live up to,” Goss said. 

Goss repeated the statement, “Fifty days until the parents were told,” several times. 

Shon Qualesth, the lead attorney for the defendant, emphasized the difference between objective and subjective proof insisting that the allegations made against the CECE and Schneider were not proven.

“Subjective opinions can ruin lives,” Qulaseth said. 

He mentioned that prior to the parents being notified they all trusted the center. 

“Under Kim’s (Schneider) care not one of the children had suffered significant issues,” Qualseth said.

The testimony began Tuesday afternoon with Persinger called to the stand. 

Goss read the several portions of the handbook to the courtroom. The mandated reports section included the duty of the person in charge, who at the time was Persinger, to report any suspected abuse to DCF. It also stated that any staff suspected of child abuse must be placed on leave with pay at the disgression of Persinger and the department staff and parents of said victim must be notified and in the case the abuse is suspected from someone in a position of power, all other parents and guardians should be notified. 

Persinger admitted to not reporting any of Dorkus’ concerns because she did not take them seriously at the time. 

In her email Dorkus stated she “wishes there was a video camera in the room,” because Schneider changes her behavior.

The defense repeated there were no injuries found and that the center was one of the few day care centers in the country that was certified through the National Association for the Education of Young Children. 

Goss pulled up a timeline Persinger had made for the court based on the events that had happened.

The trial was expected to resume at 9 a.m. today.

including former employees Keely Persinger and Kimberly Schneider, disputed the              allegations. 

The families are requesting at least $2 million in damages.

Although the children were identified by name in court during testimony on Wednesday, The Bulletin is withholding the names of the children and their families to protect the victims.

The trial is expected to last one to two weeks.

The case began with an email sent from Megan Dorcas to Persinger on March 2, 2017 stating her concerns of abuse. 

The abuse consisted of screaming at the kids, grabbing their faces in her hand aggressively to gain their attention, plopping them on the ground on their bottoms forcefully, and holding them down on their cots with an arm and a leg during nap time, according to testimony.  

In Goss’ statements he emphasized the reason there is lack of medical proof because the children, between the ages of one and two at the time, were too young to report. 

“They couldn’t go home and tell mom and dad something was happening, they couldn’t go home and tell mom and dad that something was not right,” Goss said. 

He questioned the part of the mission statement of the CECE handbook that stated they “strive to provide a nurturing environment.”

“That mission statement, they did not live up to,” Goss said. 

Goss repeated the statement, “Fifty days until the parents were told,” several times. 

Shon Qualesth, the lead attorney for the defendant, emphasized the difference between objective and subjective proof insisting that the allegations made against the CECE and Schneider were not proven.

“Subjective opinions can ruin lives,” Qulaseth said. 

He mentioned that prior to the parents being notified they all trusted the center. 

“Under Kim’s (Schneider) care not one of the children had suffered significant issues,” Qualseth said.

The testimony began Tuesday afternoon with Persinger called to the stand. 

Goss read the several portions of the handbook to the courtroom. The mandated reports section included the duty of the person in charge, who at the time was Persinger, to report any suspected abuse to DCF. It also stated that any staff suspected of child abuse must be placed on leave with pay at the disgression of Persinger and the department staff and parents of said victim must be notified. In the case the abuse is suspected from someone in a position of power, all other parents and guardians should be notified. 

Persinger admitted to not reporting any of Dorcas’ concerns because she did not take them seriously at the time. 

In her email to Persinger, Dorcas stated she “wishes there was a video camera in the room,” because Schneider changes her behavior.

The defense repeated there were no injuries found and that the center was one of the few day care centers in the country that was certified through the National Association for the Education of Young Children. 

Goss pulled up a timeline Persinger had made for the court based on the events that had happened.

The trial was expected to resume at 9 a.m. today.

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