HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa day care teacher is facing child abuse charges after deputies say she hit and dropped an infant in her care, causing serious injuries to the child.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, 51-year-old Yamirka Menendez was seen around 8 a.m. Sept. 8 on surveillance video at the Time of Wonder Academy, located just off of Hillsborough Avenue, removing a 1-year-old child from a swing by his wrists. Deputies say she swung the child about three feet in the air over a retaining wall and then dropped the child to the floor.
Due to the fall, the sheriff’s office says the young boy was unable to stand upright or place weight on his left foot and leg.
A few hours later, deputies say the boy was on the swing again when Menendez was seen on camera hitting the infant on the head.
Just after 1 p.m., Menendez was seen feeding another child, a 4-month-old, who was in her lap. Deputies say she “forcefully grabbed and yanked the victim’s right leg and slapped the child several times.”
On Sept. 9, the sheriff’s office said the mother of the 1-year-old took the infant to St. Joseph’s Hospital after noticing the child was experiencing pain in his left foot. He was diagnosed with a fracture to his tibia and fibula.
Deputies say on Sept. 23, medical staff with the University of South Florida’s Child Protection Team took a look at the 1-year-old’s injuries and concluded that his injuries were a sign of physical abuse.
Menendez was arrested by HCSO deputies on Tuesday and charged with aggravated child abuse, child abuse, and battery.
Another day care employee in the room at the time of the incident, 52-year-old Milagros Rodriguez, is facing a charge of failure to report child abuse.
Neither day care employee had a criminal background/history.
Bianca D’Andria, the co-owner of Time of Wonder Academy, said both day care workers were fully vetted.
“The teachers have all the records, FBI records, everything was clean,” said D’Andria, who is in shock by the incident. “I feel embarrassed. It’s like it happened in my house. I trained these people. I pay them what they want. I give them a good environment for work. That video is a nightmare. I can’t believe somebody can do that chat with a child.”
D’Andria said there are 16 cameras in the daycare to deter any incidents from happening. She said the cameras are not constantly monitored but parents can have access to the video if they ask. She also said she hopes to give parents remote video access after this incident.