Illinois police: Preschool kids forced to strip, stand in closet

National News

ST. LOUIS, IL (KSDK/ NBC) — Police are investigating claims that preschool students were forced to strip naked and stand in a closet as punishment at an East St. Louis, Illinois daycare.

Michelle Mitchell left the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center Tuesday afternoon with her two sons by her side.

“I can’t do a daycare ever again,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said she was disappointed but not surprised to hear that two teachers at an East St. Louis preschool — run by SIU-Edwardsville but housed in the JJK Center — were placed on leave while police investigate the claims.

Mitchell had minor problems with daycare centers in the past so she stays home now to take care of the boys, ages 4 and 2.

“It’s not worth it to me,” Mitchell said of the convenience of preschool. “I want my kids to grow up and have a full life without anything like this traumatizing them.”

SIU-Edwardsville Police Chief Kevin Schmoll said at least four kids at the program were forced to strip naked and stand in a closet as punishment for misbehavior. Another child witnessed the punishment.

“I want to emphasize how brave these little kids have been coming forward and talking to us about these incidents,” Schmoll said.

Schmoll said the unusual punishment was isolated to one classroom, and there could be criminal charges filed. 

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