NORTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - A state investigation has concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to substantiate allegations that a preschool teacher hit a student at a Sandy Springs day care.
Benjamin Miller told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik he witnessed the alleged incident in October at Primrose School of Sandy Springs.
“Little boy tugging at her leg while she was changing another child’s diaper,” he said. “She casually backhanded him on the side of the head.”
Miller said he reported the incident to school officials, and then reported it to Sandy Springs police.
He previously provided Petchenik with phone recordings during which the owners acknowledged that a child had been hit.
But, in documents Petchenik obtained from the Georgia Department of Care and Early Learning (DECAL), investigators concluded otherwise.
“There was insufficient evidence to support that allegation that a 2-year-old was hit on the side of the head by a center staff member,” the report said.
Investigators interviewed multiple people, including the mother of the child, who told officials she didn’t notice any marks on her son, nor was she concerned about his treatment at the school.
Investigators, however, cited the school for failing to report the allegations to DFACS as required by law.
The report said owners did report the allegations to DECAL the next day.
A spokesman for the agency previously told Channel 2 Action News it learned of the incident from Petchenik and that the owner failed to notify them, but Reg Griffin later recanted that statement after learning of the notification to their office.
Miller said he was concerned about a statement Sandy Springs spokeswoman Sharon Kraun made to Channel 2 Action News that said there “mitigating” circumstances surrounding the investigation because of a custody issue. Miller said a police official later clarified the statement was referencing his own divorce and custody battle for his daughter, who attended the day care at the time.
“How my personal life and my custody case could have anything to do with what happened at the day care is beyond me,” he said.
Channel 2 Action News legal analyst Esther Panitch told Petchenik it’s not uncommon for police to consider the source of an allegation, and a person’s personal situation can be looked at in those circumstances.
Petchenik and the Channel 2 Action News assignment desk reached out to Sandy Springs police and to Kraun five times over a nine-day period for information about the status of the criminal investigation, but nobody responded.
“It’s been frustrating. It’s been disappointing, said Miller of his decision to make the allegation. “It’s called my totally unrelated personal life into question. Would I still do it again? Yeah, you have to.”
The owner of the Primrose franchise, Raneet Khurana, sent Petchenik a statement about the outcome of the investigation:
“We are pleased to see that our school remains in good standing after the recent investigation by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, which found the allegation “unsubstantiated.” The safety, security and well-being of the children we serve is always our top priority and we take allegations of this nature very seriously. In fact, after this our teachers and staff have completed supplemental training on abuse allegations and we all have a stronger understanding of how our state agencies handle these issues as well as how to report them.”