Teacher arrested for abuse of child with autism

Posted at 4:51 PM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 19:44:47-05

She was supposed to be caring for kids at a Pasco County day school, but a teacher is in jail on child abuse charges.

Investigators said Tiffany Littlepage threw water in the face of a 3-year-old boy with autism at Children’s Nest Day School in Lutz, because he was playing with the teacher’s water bottle.

BACKSTORY | Teacher arrested for child abuse

She was fired December 29, the day after the incident -- But now, she’s under arrest.

“I believe in my heart that this was just one bad apple,” said Candace, a parent of 2-year-old twins.

That alleged bad apple faced a judge Wednesday afternoon, saying she lives with her mother and doesn't have the money to hire an attorney.

Authorities said on December 28, a 3-year-old boy with autism was playing with Littlepage’s water bottle.

She reacted by dumping water on the child’s head and forcefully throwing water in his face.

According to investigators, the child cried and had to be soothed by another teacher.

“If somebody did that to my little guy, I would probably be right on that,” said Paulette Schreifels, who has a 4-year-old at the daycare.

Littlepage worked at the school for just four months, and according to the owner, she had years of experience working with children and met all training requirements.

“It’s horribly, horribly frustrating. They are trained and told repeatedly what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate and what would be cause for immediate termination,” said owner Tripp Couch.

A classroom aid told investigators Littlepage targeted children who are slow learners and have disabilities by putting them in time out and punishing them unjustly.

“We would never, it goes without saying, allow anyone to target any child for any special discipline. That’s just not how we do things,” said Couch.

Children’s Nest Day School is a family business with seven locations.

They’ve been operating for almost 40 years, and parents we talked to say they don’t blame the daycare.

“My children are wild, they are 2-year-olds, they are rambunctious, they are fun and they’ve helped me just ease the mindset that they are safe here,” said Candace.

The child involved stayed at the daycare for a week or two after the incident, but is no longer enrolled.