Cape Coral day care teacher told police she didn’t mean to hurt girl

A day care teacher seen in a video pushing and spanking a child told police that she was trying to put the child down to sleep and didn’t mean to hurt her.

Diana Varela, the daughter of the owner of Kiddie Island Academy, is still working at the day care, but not directly with children, despite several DCF violations issued against the center in October.

An investigation was launched by the Cape Coral Police Department and the Department of Children And Families after the mother of a toddler found a scratch and blood blister on her baby’s lip.

According to a Cape Coral police supplement report obtained by WINK News, Varela said she was attempted to use the back of her arm to try and lay the child down but instead the child fell the other way.

She said she “patted” the child’s buttocks and put a blanket over her to try to get her to sleep.

DOCUMENT: Kiddie Island supplemental report

A DCF report characterized Varela’s actions as “pushing” and “spanking” and the day care was given violations for using aggressive physical discipline, lying about the incident to the child’s parent, and not reporting the child’s injuries or the encounter to DCF.

Varela is also seen on video pulling the child by her arm with the child’s legs suspended in the air.

She told police she should not have picked the child up by her arm that way and claimed after she was out of the view of the camera she put her back down and guided her with both hands on her torso.

DOCUMENTKiddie Island Complaint report by DCF

The day care owner and director, Maria Varela, also told police that a toy robot fell on the child. Police reviewed extended video provided by the director that showed the toy falling on the girl.

Initially, the day care told the child’s mother the girl had fallen asleep on a book, which left an indent on her face.

Maria Varela also told WINK News this same information by phone on Friday.

WINK News could not reach Maria Varela by phone or email Wednesday, and has not been able to reach Diana Varela directly for comment.

The State Attorney’s office is reviewing the case. DCF has an open investigation into the day care but won’t say what it’s about.

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
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