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Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Parents sue preschool, say teacher bit 3-year-old

October 15, 2003

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A Lawrence couple is suing a local preschool claiming a teacher bit their 3-year-old son on the arm to demonstrate that biting hurts, but a school official says that's not what happened.

Annie and Hungwei Lin filed suit earlier this month in Douglas County District Court against Raintree Montessori School, 4601 Clinton Parkway. They claim that on April 16 a teacher bit their son, Sydney, hard enough to leave bruises and teeth marks after Sydney bit another child.

A state social worker investigated the incident and found it to be a "substantiated" case of physical abuse, according to a Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services notice dated June 5. But Raintree's director, Lleanna McReynolds, said in a statement that investigators weren't pursuing the matter.

"We have been informed by the appropriate authorities that after a full and complete investigation, this matter was closed," McReynolds' statement said. "The teacher involved is still employed here. We have also fully investigated the matter internally, and have determined that the incident as claimed did not occur."

Tom Murray, an attorney representing the school, said "Raintree has thoroughly investigated these claims, and this lawsuit will be vigorously defended."

Annie Lin, owner of Fresh Coffee Roastery, 601 Kasold Drive, claims that teacher Julie Miller told her when she picked up her son that day that she'd bitten him to show him that it hurts. Lin said she doesn't think it's possible the bite marks came from another child because her son told her they came from the teacher.

"Little kids don't lie," she said.

Lin said she reported the incident to police about a week later, but by that time the bruises had healed. No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

Her son has since changed schools. The lawsuit claims he and his mother suffered emotional distress and that Raintree "ratified" the actions of the teacher.

Lin's Leawood-based attorneys, Rachel Smith and Thomas R. Larson, took the unusual step of issuing a press release to call attention to the lawsuit.

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