Parents express shock in wake of day care ‘Fight Club’
The investigation continues in Union County after two teacher assistants at the Lightbridge Academy Day Care Center in Cranford were arrested for allegedly encouraging children between the ages of 4 and 6 to fight each other.
According to the Union County Prosecutor's Office, 22-year-old Erica Kenny of Cranford and 28-year-old Chanese White of Roselle are both charged with fourth degree child abuse and Kenny is facing a third degree count of endangering the welfare of a child. Authorities say she instigated fights on the playground, videotaping the commotion and then sharing the video clips on social media via the Snapchat app.
On the video, Kenny is heard referencing the activity as “Fight Club.”
About a dozen kids can be seen on the video shoving and trying to punch each other, but fortunately, authorities say no one suffered serious injuries.
Parents who heard about the story expressed shock Tuesday afternoon.
“As a mother, when you bring your children or a child to a place, you’re hoping that they use nothing but their best care for your children, and when you hear stuff like that it’s very disturbing,” said Maria Grillo of Cranford,” "It’s your children and they’re the future, and besides the future you’re hoping that when you’re leaving your child with adults and supervised individuals, that they have their best interest in mind. It just leaves a lump in your throat, very, very upsetting, it’s very disheartening.”
Linda, a mom from Clark, was dumbfounded by the news.
“That’s just a horrible thing, I mean 6-year-olds. Why would they do such a thing,” she said. “As a mother and a grandmother that’s just sickening.”
A man passing by said “it’s terrible, this stuff happens all the time these days, every day you hear more and more about it and it’s just a shame, exploiting little kids, it shouldn’t be happening.”
Delores Tomace of Union said, “we all have a responsibility to our children and it just makes me so sad that they would do something to babies, and they’re really babies.”
Jaclyn Falzarano, Vice President of Operations for the Lightbridge Academy, told reporters they’ve been working closely with the Prosecutor's Office. She said the two teacher assistants charged have been fired.
“We’ve been in constant communication with our parents to let them know that we are here to fully support the care and nurturing education of their children,” she said. “We are completely appalled at this incident.”
When asked how this could have happened without other adults seeing it she said the school's main focus right now is the safety of the students.
“What we really would like to focus on at this point is that all of the children are safe, that is our number one priority. We have taken this opportunity to take an extra look at all of our policies and procedures and practices, we are working with the proper authorities to make sure we have everything in place,” she said.
Minutes later Falzarano and an unidentified man who was at her side ordered reporters to leave the premises.