Police investigate ‘potential assault’ in daycare video

Video captured by a daycare employee showed another employee inappropriately spanking a child.

The Oak Harbor Police Department is investigating a report of a former employee at the Children’s Academy daycare in Oak Harbor inappropriately spanking a child and turning “another child over in an aggressive manner,” according to a press release issued Monday.

Investigators are looking into the incidents as potential assaults.

There are two cellphone videos of the reported incidents taken by another daycare employee. They show the former employee swatting a child once on the bottom, and in a second video, flipping a child over on a cot.

A woman reached at the Children’s Academy said that the suspected employee was let go after 17 years on the job.

“No one has abused a child,” she said. “She didn’t hurt the child, but it wasn’t okay.”

The employee’s handling of the children was against their policies, and she was let go because of it, according to the daycare. The police report said that the daycare is cooperating with the investigation.

Oak Harbor resident Jessica Vanvelkinburgh contacted the News-Times about the story and was interview by TV news. She had her children enrolled at the Children’s Academy years ago but pulled them out due to her concerns. She said her 11-month-old son was taken out of the baby room every day and put into the room for 3-4 year olds, where she felt he was unsafe.

“This is a 17-year-long issue,” she said, referring to how long the employee had worked there.

An employee of Vanvelkinburgh’s, who had a child enrolled at the daycare, received the videos from the daycare staff member.

Vanvelkinburgh claimed that three kids were involved and all parents are cooperating with police. The Oak Harbor Police Department could not confirm or deny this. Capt. Mike Bailey said in an email that there are more witnesses to be interviewed so investigators are not releasing any more information at this time. Bailey did confirm that a CPS investigator is working alongside the police.

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families has four reported complaints against the daycare on their website. However, these complaints have to do with under-staffing issues and a case of COVID-19 reported incorrectly.

Anyone with information regarding the case should contact Detective Sgt. Jenn Gravel at 360-279-4630 or email jgravel@oakharbor.org.