Lawyers representing a Santa Clarita Valley woman whose 3-year-old daughter was allegedly recorded on video with her buttocks exposed at a local daycare, the images of which were then allegedly posted on social media, have filed a lawsuit against the company that owns the daycare.
On Friday, attorney Coleman W. Watson filed a civil complaint with the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, naming as the defendant, Cadence Education LLC, and demanding a jury trial.
Cadence owns the Sunshine Child Care & Learning Centers on Wiley Canyon Road where the alleged incident took place.
Jennifer Parsons, regional director for Sunshine Learning Centers, issued a written statement late Monday afternoon in response to the lawsuit, saying their employees took the appropriate immediate action at the time of the incident, which she described as isolated.
“The privacy of our students is of paramount importance to us and our employees,” Parsons wrote. “We swiftly addressed an isolated incident in which a former employee posted a photo of a student on social media: Upon learning of the post, our management team took immediate action to have the image removed.
“The former employee was terminated for violating company policy, and the student’s parents were promptly notified. We are aware that a lawsuit has been filed,” Parsons wrote. “As it is ongoing, we’re currently unable to comment further on specifics. We continue to focus on ensuring all of our students receive an exceptional education in a safe and nurturing environment.”
The civil action seeks compensatory damages and punitive damages, alleging among other things that the Sunshine Child Care & Learning Centers on Wiley Canyon Road was negligent in its hiring of the teacher who allegedly took the video.
The lawsuit alleges: “On Aug. 31, 2018, (the teacher) engaged in inappropriate conduct with (the girl). More specifically, while (the girl) was taking a nap, (the teacher) videotaped herself removing a blanket from (the girl), who at the time was sleeping in a face down position with her bottom in the air.
“(The teacher) then pulled (the girl’s) panties down in close proximity to her knees and pulled (the girl’s) dress up above her (midriff). At that point, (the girl’s) partially naked body was exposed, while (the teacher) videotaped (the girl).
“After recording the video, (the teacher) then uploaded the video to Snapchat and disseminated the video out publicly on the social media platform. (The teacher’s) distribution of the video went to several other teachers at Sunshine Learning Center because (the teacher) ‘tagged’ them in the video.
“(The teacher) videotaped (the girl) in the course of her employment with Cadence and the conduct occurred on premises owned or operated by Cadence.”
“During the incident where (the teacher) videotaped a partially naked (girl) another teacher from Sunshine Learning Center was present in the room, observed the conduct, and did nothing to stop the conduct,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit alleges one of the other teachers at the school informed the school’s director about the video. The lawsuit alleges the director told the teacher not to disclose the incident to (the girl’s) parents and to allow “corporate” to conduct its own internal investigation of the incident.
The lawyer representing the mother of the 3-year-old girl also contends that the Sunshine Learning Center did not disclose the incident to the mother until Sept. 4, about five days after the incident occurred.
The teacher identified as having taken the video recording was fired from the Sunshine Learning Center.
Investigations into the incident were undertaken by both the state’s Department of Social Services and the Special Victims Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
No criminal charges have been filed in connection with the incident.
With regard to the probe carried out by the state’s Social Services Department, Sunshine Child Care & Learning Centers on Wiley Canyon Road was cited for a “Type B deficiency.”
The state defines Type B deficiencies as: “Violations of the regulations and/or the Health and Safety Code, that, without correction, could become a risk to the health, safety or personal rights of clients, a recordkeeping violation that would impact the care of clients and/or protection of their resources, or a violation that would impact those services required to meet the clients’ needs.”