For release on March 19, 2013
CONTACT: Sumerle Davis
Deputy District Attorney
Family Violence Unit
PRESCHOOL TEACHER CHARGED: SPIKED SIPPY CUPS WITH SLEEPING PILLS
A South County pre-school teacher was charged today with 10 misdemeanors after a fellow teacher discovered that she was dosing toddlers’ sippy cups with sleeping pills.
Deborah Gratz, 59, of Hollister, was charged with five counts of attempted child endangerment and five counts of assault. If convicted of all charges, she faces a jail sentence.
Her arraignment is set for 9 a.m. on March 26 at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill.
“When a parent drops off their child at a day care facility there is an expectation that the child will be cared for, protected and loved,’’ Deputy District Attorney Sumerle Davis said. “In this situation, a teacher violated that trust by intentionally trying to provide sleeping pills to unsuspecting children without their parents’ permission or knowledge.”
Gratz has worked at the Kiddie Academy in Morgan Hill since 2007. She supervised the naptimes of about 10 children between the ages of one and two. A fellow teacher observed Gratz putting Sominex into water cups of the children. The cups were confiscated before they any children could drink from them. Teachers found residue in five of the cups. The sleep-aid contains a warning not give the product to children under 12.
Gratz was arrested on Monday, March 11 by Morgan Hill police and is out of custody on supervised release.
The investigation is ongoing. Any one with information about the case may contact Morgan Hill Police Detective Joe Burdick at (408) 779-2101. Anonymous tips may be left at (408) 947-7867.