EMPORIA (AP) — A jury has ruled in favor of four families who sued Emporia State University and two employees of its Center for Early Childhood Education.

The Lyon County jury ruled Tuesday the defendants must pay a total of $350,000 in damages to the four families. They alleged four toddlers at the center were abused and demeaned by a former teacher, Kimberly Schneider. They also contend the center’s director, Keely Persinger, and university staff ignored their complaints.

The Emporia Gazette reports investigators with state social service agencies substantiated claims of physical and emotional abuse and lack of supervision at the center.

Persinger and Schneider were granted separate diversion agreements on related criminal charges in summer of 2018.

The jury found the university 30 percent responsible and Persinger 70 percent responsible.

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