(DELMAR, Del.) - A Delmar daycare center is still under fire after being accused of using a Halloween mask to scare children straight.
Last Friday, WRDE spoke with Tom Atkinson, owner of Lil' Red Hen Nursery School, who denied the accusations. Atkinson admits the mask was on the property, but says it was never used to scare children.
"The only thing we know, is the mask was on the property, which we wrote the two individuals up when we found out about it," said Atkinson.
According to Atkinson, the mask issue was never brought up until after two other employees were fired for poor performance. That's when Atkinson says one of the fired employees reported the school to the State of Delaware Child Care and Licensing.
"If this was such a big problem to these blessed people, why did they wait until they got fired to bring it to anybody's attention? And if the parents feel so strongly, why are their children still here?" said Atkinson.
But as of Monday, Chelsea Daschiell says her 3-year-old son, Mason Gillepsie, is no longer enrolled at the daycare. Daschiell says Mason attended Lil' Red Hen Nursery School since six months old. She says one of the ex-employees, who's also a close family friend, told her about the mask. When she asked her son about it, he said it was true.
"I pulled Mason aside and asked him. I showed him the picture [of the mask] and he said 'that's the mask Miss Tina wears to scare me.' I then asked him about the little boy, Haven, who's he's very close to in his class, and I didn't directly come out and ask him, because I didn't want to sound suspicious. So, he said 'yes, when Haven wouldn't take a nap, they brought the mask out and he screamed,'" said Daschiell. "So, then I knew that it was true, because how else would my three year old know that this was written in an article?"
Daschiell says Mason told her Miss Tina then bribed him with candy in order to not tell his parents.
"I was very surprised, because my son was very close with Miss Tina," said Daschiell. "The one who brought the mask in has been scaring my son. She's the one he always goes to. She's the one he always asks for. She's the one I would put all my trust in."
But it doesn't end with the mask. According to Daschiell, staff members had other ways of being "emotionally abusive" to Mason.
"I've been told they've slammed my son down into chairs. He used to have this little Mohawk that my grandmother put on his head, because she thought it was really cute. And apparently they were making fun of him. He told me they were going to skin his head. So how would a three year old say 'skin a head'? How would he know that?" said Daschiell.
Daschiell says she does have plans to make sure something gets done, but would not say what those plans are. As of Monday, Daschiell says Mason's no longer enrolled at Lil' Red Hen Nursery School. She's currently looking for a new daycare.
"I'm so tore up inside because they did this to my son," said Daschiell. "It's very heartbreaking knowing I couldn't be there to save my son."
Friday, Leslie Jones emailed WRDE claiming she's the one who reported the daycare center to licensing. In the email, Jones accuses the daycare center of "lying continuously to protect their niece who was part of the abuse." She goes on to say the daycare center "knew she was a good employee, but she just didn't follow their rules in covering up misconduct."