Austin | Dallas | Houston
Unusual Lawsuits

Day care owner who cruelly duct tapes kids offers an unbelievable defense in the nap-time furor

Enlarge
Slideshow
Heart 2 Heart Montessori
Parents allege their child was abused at Heart 2 Heart Montessori in Willow Park. Photo via Heart 2 Heart Montessori
Heart 2 Heart Montessori
Heart 2 Heart Montessori Academy has classes for toddlers and elementary age children. Photo via Heart 2 Heart Montessori
Heart 2 Heart Montessori
Heart 2 Heart Montessori Academy in Willow Park. Photo via Heart 2 Heart Montessori
Heart 2 Heart Montessori
Heart 2 Heart Montessori
Heart 2 Heart Montessori

A North Texas family is suing a child care provider for allegedly duct taping their toddler son during naptime. The lawsuit against Heart 2 Heart Montessori Academy in Willow Park accuses the facility of gross negligence, fraud and serious bodily harm to a child.

Parents Kristi and Brad Galbraith filed the Parker County suit this week. The lawsuit includes photographic evidence of a child duct taped to a mat, and also alleges that Montessori employees withheld liquids from the children in order to reduce diaper changes.

 The lawsuit also alleges that Montessori employees withheld liquids from the children in order to reduce diaper changes.

“Behavior like that is an unconscionable breach of the faith that parents place in child care providers,” attorney Jeffrey Rasansky said in a statement. “This lawsuit was necessary to ensure that this incident is properly investigated so that no other child is ever treated this way.”

The claims date back to June and involve former owner Pamela Decker. The suit also details incidents with Decker and several other children at the academy.

The Galbraiths learned that their son had been duct taped to his mat from Hannah Tidwell, another teacher at Heart 2 Heart who was disturbed by the actions. Neither Tidwell nor Decker currently works at the facility.

The lawsuit quotes Decker as defending her use of duct tape on the child. “He was quiet. He never cried. He never complained. He was not in any anguish. … He was not harmed in any way, emotionally, physically, at all.”

According to Rasansky, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Willow Park Police Department are still in the process of investigating the initial claims. The preschool now provides cameras for parents to observe their children and has implemented “regular liquid breaks.”

In a statement, owner and director Ashlea Pena did not respond to the specific allegations in the lawsuit, saying only that “Pam Decker is no longer a co-owner of Heart2Heart Montessori or associated with the school in any way.” Pena, Decker's daughter, oversees day-to-day operations of the academy, which offers classes for children ages 18 months to 5 years.

Newsletters for exploring your city

Daily Digest

Houston news, views + events

The Dining Report

News you can eat

Insider Offers

Curated experiences at exclusive prices

Promo Alerts

Special offers + exclusive deals

We will not share or sell your email address