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.