TULSA, Oklahoma – A teacher's aide at the John Knox Development Center in Tulsa was arrested Tuesday and charged with two counts of child abuse.
The first dates back to 2008 and the most recent happened last Thursday.
Police say Meredith Howard has worked in the child care industry for 20 years. But this is the second time she's been put on administrative leave because a child was hurt.
Howard, 38, is accused of hurting a 19 month old girl at the John Knox Development Center near 31st and Harvard on November 4, 2010.
"The school called the parents and said your child has an injury. The mom showed up at the school immediately, took the child to the physician's office. The physician's office says she needs to go to the emergency room," said Tulsa Police Detective Jeanne Mackenzie.
Police say the 19-month-old toddler's injury was so significant it required surgery. Hospital workers, not the daycare, notified Tulsa police.
Investigators say Meredith Howard told them she was alone with the baby girl in a classroom at John Knox Child Development Center. A police affidavit states Howard says she was changing the baby's diaper when she penetrated the girl. The report goes onto say Howard says it was an accident, but the doctor who examined the 19-month-old says that explanation doesn't fit the injuries.
The second abuse charge is from a case in December 2008.
They say Howard was accused of abusing an eight-month-old boy at a "Mother's Day Out" program at Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church. The boy suffered a broken leg.
In the report, Howard says the child was acting fussy and she became frustrated with him. The report says she "admitted that she thought she had broken the baby's leg when she 'sat him down' really hard, when he was being fussy."
Prosecutors decided not to file charges at that time. But investigators don't believe either incident was accidental.
"The amount of force that was used to break the little boy's leg and the injury to the little girl, it doesn't seem possible that it was an accident," Detective Mackenzie said.
A statement posted on the John Knox Child Center's website Tuesday said they have put measures into place to ensure child safety including doubling staff in all rooms and looking into buying a video monitoring system for classrooms and hallways.
The statement also said all staff have background checks with OSBI and DHS. The center says Howard's checks came back clean and references reported no prior history of abuse.
The Center is having an informational meeting for parents this Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 6 p.m. in its Fellowship Hall.
Police say Meredith Howard was placed on administrative leave in 2008, but she did return to work at Kirk of the Hills in a different age group. Because the "Mother's Day Out" is a small program, officials say it is not regulated by Oklahoma's Department of Human Services.
Howard is being held on a $100,000 bond. She has no previous criminal record.