The Santa Clara County District Attorney on Thursday charged a Morgan Hill preschool teacher with 10 misdemeanors after a colleague spotted her allegedly spiking toddlers' sippy cups with sleeping pills.
Deputy District Attorney Summerle Davis charged Deborah Gratz, 59, of Hollister with five counts of attempted child endangerment and five counts of assault. Gratz was released from jail on her own recognizance following her arrest on March 11. She has declined media interviews.
She is ordered to face charges on March 26 at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill.
“When a parent drops off their child at a day care facility there is an expectation that the child will be cared for, protected and loved,’’ Davis said. “In this situation, a teacher violated that trust by
intentionally trying to provide sleeping pills to unsuspecting children without their parents’ permission or knowledge.”
Gratz supervised 10 children at the Kiddie Academy Childcare Facility on Monterey Road, where she has since been fired. Prosecutors said that on that day in question, the cups were confiscated before any of the children drank from them. Teachers, prosecutors said, found residue in five of the cups. The sleeping aid, Sominex, is not supposed to be given to children younger than 12.
In a previous statement, academy spokeswoman Rose Chin said that administrators are cooperating with police, and that the "safety" of the children is Kiddie Academy's "top priority." The statement also said that school of 80 students - which won an award in 2011 - is cared for by "exceptionally qualified teachers."
Some parents threatened to pull their children out of the academy. NBC Bay Area knows of one mother who actually did.
The news came a day after reports exploded about a teacher at a Pleasanton school accused of taping up a 2-year-old for refusing to take a nap.
Anyone who knows something about this, or if anyone had a child under the care of Gratz while at the Kiddie Academy, should contact Morgan Hill Police Department Detective Joe Burdick at 408.779.2101 or the anonymous tip line at 408.947.STOP(7867).