Florida preschool worker bit child after girl refused to touch frog she was afraid of, police say

A pre-school daycare worker in Florida has been arrested after she was accused of biting a student, according to police.

Syerra Ward, 18, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with aggravated child abuse, Lee County Sheriff’s Office documents show. The incident occurred on September 26 at Odyssey Preschool Academy on 4246 Evans Ave in the city of Fort Myers, western Florida, NBC 2 reported.

The child’s mother collected her from the academy on September 26, according to an arrest affidavit seen by NBC 2. The girl had ice pressed against her shoulder and was crying.

The mother asked her daughter what had happened, and she said Ward had bitten her. She asked to speak to Josana Ward, the owner of the center who is the accused’s mother.

Josana Ward spoke to the accused. She told the victim’s mother Ward had bit her child, but in a playful way. The mother took her daughter to Golisano Children’s Hospital and contacted the Department of Children and Families. She told investigators she requested an incident report from the pre-school, but did not receive one.

Josana Ward told officials the accused’s duties were changed following the incident.

Investigators from the Department of Children and Families spoke to the child, who told them Ward had tried to force the her to touch a frog on a sidewalk after she told the worker she was afraid of the animals. The child claimed Ward held her by the leg and arm during the incident.

The girl told the officials she began to scream and cry, and Ward laughed. The daycare worker then became angry at the girl, and bit her on the shoulder.

After being bitten, the girl said she kicked Ward and hit her in the stomach. Ward took the girl to the bathroom to wash her face. She spotted the mark left by her bite, and gave her ice.

The arrest affidavit seen by NBC 2 states Ward denied forcing the child to touch the frog, or holding her. Ward accused the girl of biting her on the chest and arm first. She said she responded by biting her back.

According to Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Ward was released on a bond of $15,000 on Wednesday afternoon.

Ward is due to appear in Lee County Court in January, Wink News reported. It is unclear why Ward was arrested months after the incident.

Odyssey Preschool Academy has been contacted for comment. Lee County Sheriff’s Office referred Newsweek to Fort Myers Police Department. Newsweek has contacted Fort Myers Police Department for comment.

*story by NewsWeek