An employee of a Lacey child care center is charged with third-degree child assault after she allegedly pushed a 4-year-old boy’s head into a sleeping cot.
Margaret L. Partello, 37, pleaded not guilty to the charge in Thurston County Superior Court on Thursday. She has worked at Small Wonders Child Development Center for about 13 years, according to the daycare’s owner and director Renee Harrington.
Partello is currently on administrative leave, Harrington said.
Harrington said she and another worker were in the room at the time of the alleged assault. She said the allegations are false, and that children have always been safe at Small Wonders, which is licensed for 79 children, and employs 12 people.
The Lacey Police Department began investigating Partello in mid-August after the child’s father made a child abuse complaint, according to court documents.
The boy and his father visited the police station, where a detective noticed that the child had scratches and abrasions on his forehead, eyelid and the sides of his face. In court documents, the injuries were described as being in a “small waffle-like pattern.”
The child care center had reportedly called the child’s mother the day before and told her that the boy wouldn’t go down for a nap. Staff told her that the boy had banged his head against the cot, and that it might “look bad,” according to court documents.
Partello sent two photos of the child to his mother, who came to pick up the child.
The child reportedly told his father, “Miss Maggie squished my head into the bed.”
Dr. Joyce Gilbert, medical director of Providence’s Sexual Assault Clinic and Child Maltreatment Center, told detectives that the child’s injuries weren’t consistent with him thrashing on the cot, according to court documents.