Kiddie Academy Teacher Accused of Putting Sominex into Tots' Sippy Cups

Thursday, 14 Mar 2013 03:48 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A California preschool teacher was arrested after a co-worker reportedly saw her slip sleeping pills into the sippy cups of her toddler students.

A fellow Morgan Hill Kiddie Academy employee reported Debbie Grantz, 59, to school officials after spying the teacher adding an unknown substance to the children's cups Friday before school. There were 10 children, all under the age of 2, in Gratz's care.

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"Ms. Gratz was witnessed adding a substance to the water cups for her classroom of 10 children," Kiddie Academy officials said in a statement. "The cups were confiscated before they came in contact with any children prior to the academy opening for business that day."

School officials confronted Gratz, and she reportedly admitted that she'd put Sominex, an over-the-counter sleep aid, in the drinking cups. The school contacted police on Monday and Gratz was arrested and charged with two counts of child endangerment.

"We do not know the quantity, but we believe she was breaking the pill into smaller pieces and putting it into the children’s sippy cups," Morgan Hill Sgt. of Investigations Troy Hoefling told ABC News. "We've contacted all 10 parents [of the children] that were under her care. We've received 30 to 35 phone calls, either past or present parents at the Kiddie Academy, so we're still trying to determine if this has been going on for some time. We don't think it's a one-time occurrence."

Hoefling said precious evidence has been destroyed because the Kiddie Academy waited until Monday to contact the authorities.

"We certainly would have appreciated [being called earlier]," he told ABC News. "We could have gone out there and obtained some of the statements of the people that witnessed it that day, we could have gathered some of the evidence. We only found out those cups had been washed out and rinsed."

Police have not yet identified a motive for Gratz's actions.

Bianca Flores, whose son was under Gratz's care until a few weeks ago, said the school didn’t tell her the reason the teacher was fired; she found out from her sister who saw it on the news.

"Sickening, sick to my stomach, I want to throw up," Flores said. "I'm not angry, I'm just sad, disturbing, I don't know what to think."

Gratz is scheduled to appear in court later this month.

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