Educators at SIUE Head Start program charged for punishment of preschoolers

BELLEVILLE, Ill. – The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office charged two women Wednesday for their roles in allegedly punishing preschool children by forcing them to stand in a closet nude.

According to prosecutors, the incidents occurred between February 1 and March 13, 2019, at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Head Start program, located at the Jackie Joyner Kersee Center in East St. Louis.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mary Agbehia and 41-year-old Shavonda Willis were arrested March 19. They were both charged with aggravated battery, unlawful restraint, and failure to report child abuse or neglect.

SIUE campus police handled the investigation and made the arrests.

At the time of the arrests, SIUE Police Chief Kevin Schmoll said it’s believed four of the children were victims of the unusual punishment.

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