Preschool teacher accused of trying to use sleeping pills on children under the age of 2

Mugshot for Debbie Gratz

A teacher at a California preschool has been arrested after it was revealed she allegedly slipped sleeping pills into sippy cups of children under her care.

59-year-old Debbie Gratz was terminated from her job Friday “for failure to follow Kiddie Academy standards and processes.”

A written statement from Morgan Hill Kiddie Academy stated:

“Ms. Gratz was witnessed adding a substance to the water cups for her classroom of 10 children. The cups were confiscated before they came in contact with any children prior to the academy opening for business that day.”

A fellow employee of the school witnessed the 20-year teaching veteran putting an unknown substance in the sippy cups Friday and notified school officials. The police were not told of the event until Monday. Once confronted, Gratz is believed to have admitted to administrators that she did slip the drug into the containers, according to a police report.

Morgan Hill Sgt. of Investigations Troy Hoefling told ABC News, “They made notifications internally. Unfortunately, the problem with that is not only do we not get on the case right away but we lose precious evidence. We only found out after those cups had been washed out and rinsed.” Hoefling believes she was breaking the pills into smaller pieces before doping the children. He stated that the drug in question was an over-the-counter sleep aid medicine, Sominex.

Gratz has been charged with 2 counts of child endangerment and has since been released on her own recognizance. Authorities stated that she has a court date set for later this month. The police have no intent on charging the school for their delay in reporting the incident but the district attorney has the discretion to do so at a later date.

The police have contacted all the guardians of the 10 children – ages 1-2 – who were under Gratz’s care. They’ve also been receiving calls from concerned parents whose children currently or used to attend the academy. Frighteningly, Hoefling added, “We don’t think it’s a one-time occurrence.”

Gratz has yet to comment on a motive.

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  • Geniya

    her motive was probably too make her job easier with passed out babies

  • ashley

    This is awful! You just cannot trust anyone with your children these days. I am beyond grateful that my husband is such a hard worker and supports my decision to stay home with our child.

  • Kari

    Stuff like this is why my husband won’t let me work until our son can TELL us what happens at daycare. So sad that you trust someone with your kids and that’s how they handle them :/

    • GumballGiggity

      Same here. My husband doesn’t trust anyone at all to look after our baby.

  • Lisa Keller

    First of all as a teacher myself this woman should not have been alone with 10 children that young. California state license regulations require a 4 to 1 ratio. This school is just as at fault as the teacher. What she did is as wrong as a teacher should be and I am no way justifying what she did. Its a horrible thing but, maybe if she didn’t have to care for so many kids at once she wouldn’t have taken drastic measures. Some teachers need to quit if they are feeling that overwhelmed to the point where they consider something like this. The school is more wrong to cover its own tracks by not reporting it and washing out the evidence before it could be investigated. if they followed state laws they would have nothing to hide by reporting it as it happened. Don’t base all day care and preschool situations based on one burned out teacher that made a bad decision. Most teachers of kids that young love and care for those kids as they would their own. They are certainly not doing it for the money. Most love their jobs. I know I did when I had a class of kids that were 2 years old. Pay attention to the teachers and how your kids react to them. That is always the key and show up unannounced to check things out. If the school and teachers have nothing to hide they wouldn’t have a problem with drop ins.

  • Geniya

    in my country there are 30 to 1 ratio (ukraine)
    if you misbehave you get spanked
    Looks like daycare is bad everywhere

  • Maiko Higa

    Do you really need a motive to want kids to sleep?