MANCHESTER – A nursery school teacher was fired for allegedly slapping a toddler in the face. The incident had been reported by a parent dropping their child off at Hilltop Nursery School in Manchester.
A letter was sent to Hilltop parents that read: “An incident was reported to us (on Feb. 21) involving one child. The incident was investigated immediately and involved the conduct of a teacher. We have also requested an independent investigation. The child was not harmed but the conduct of the teacher was not acceptable and consequently the teacher was dismissed. The parent of the child was notified.
“We regret that the incident took place and assure all of you that your child’s safety and well-being remains our utmost concern.
“We value the confidentiality of all of our children and unfortunately cannot discuss this further but assure you the matter is being addressed appropriately.”
One parent of a child at Hilltop – who was not involved in the incident – said that it was a shame that one employee is making the school look bad because “many of them are saints.” This parent chose not to be identified for this story, but verified that his children have attended Hilltop for years.
News of the incident spread across Facebook after a parent had described what she saw.
Amanda Goldfarb, Toms River, said she was walking into the classroom when she saw a teacher kneeling in front of a child, yelling at the child. This teacher, whose back was turned, allegedly slapped the child on the cheek several times trying to get her attention. This was in a room where all the children were between 2 and a half and 3 years old. Goldfarb doesn’t remember what the teacher was saying.
Goldfarb’s son, who is 2 and a half, was supposed to start that day, but she pulled him out.
She posted about what happened on Facebook, and the story spread quickly. It didn’t take long for her to find the child’s parent, who also pulled the child out.
Goldfarb also reported the incident with the state. A social worker called her and let her know that it is being investigated but that she would never know about the results of the investigation.
Parents have said that there are video cameras in the classrooms.
A representative from The State Department of Children and Families issued the following statement: “While the DCF cannot disclose its involvement with any child or family, I can say that we often work closely with law enforcement to assist when an allegation of child abuse or maltreatment is made to them or to the Child Abuse Hotline.” That number is 877-NJ-Abuse.
When Jersey Shore Online attempted to reach out to Hilltop Nursery School, their legal counsel sent us an e-mail which was the same statement they sent to parents. The counsel named in the e-mail is Robert W. Allen, Esq. of Gluck & Allen, LLC. in Toms River.
Manchester Police Captain Todd Malland said they’ve seen the video from the school. He said “there was no slap, assault, etc. as initially reported by there person making the Facebook post. The incident, however, is being further investigated and followed-up by members of our Investigations Bureau in conjunction with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey Department of Children and Families Institutional Abuse Investigations Unit as a result of the tremendous social media attention the incident received.”
Editor’s note: There is NO affiliation between Hilltop in Manchester and Hillcrest Academy in Bayville.