The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Infant lab school closed for week, investigation continues

Children from a closed CSUN day-care center were taken in by the A.S. Children’s Center March 8.

The closure was due to the investigation of an alleged battery of a child following the Tuesday arrest of a lab school employee.

The A.S. center would house the children from the Campus Child and Family Studies Center Infant/Toddlers Lab School through the week, an employee said.

“The provost and dean (of the College of Human Health and Development) asked if we could accommodate the children that needed care,” said Jennifer De La Torre, A.S. Children’s Center assistant director. “We do not know how many people are coming. We are taking it on a day-by-(day) basis.”

The lab school employee, identified as Wendy Nicola, 62, teacher for the infant program at the school, was taken by CSUN police to the Los Angeles Police Department Valley jail in Van Nuys, booked in connection with a misdemeanor battery on a child and released Tuesday night.

On Wednesday morning, two employees, and a parent and child who were unaware of the closure and the events of the previous day, were at the lab school.

John Chandler, CSUN spokesperson, said the university made phone calls to parents, and requested them to pick up their children late Tuesday afternoon.

The parents were told there was a complaint filed, and that alternate arrangements had been made with the A.S. Children’s Center, said Chandler, adding that the university expects the arrangements to last for “a short period of time.”

Chandler said the school’s operations of the lab school have been suspended for “a number of days until everything is handled properly.”

The complaint originated when a father of an infant at the lab school, told school employees he saw another infant being roughly handled.

Chandler said lab school personnel had arranged for a meeting with all the parents of the school on Tuesday evening, but instead of waiting for the meeting, the father filed a complaint with CSUN police.

The investigation is now being handled by CSUN police.

The lab school and the chidren’s Center are on each other’s emergency evacuation list and disaster plan.

“We go along with the university plan, but we need a site that can handle children,” De La Torre said.

She said parents of the school were called by staff and given the option of leaving their children at the Children’s Center or finding alternative care.

De La Torre said some of the lab school’s staff would join the Children’s Center’s staff to make the children more comfortable.

“The children are enjoying, exploring the new environment in the company of their familiar caregivers,” she said.

The licensed capacity of the children’s center is much higher than the typical number of children in attendance, so there should be no problem with lack of space, De La Torre said.

The lab school is a separate facility to the lab’s preschool, but both are supervised by Jerry Ann Harrel-Smith, director of the child and family studies center.

Nicola is on paid administrative leave, which is usual procedure done in a situation when someone is the subject to an investigation but there is no legal finding yet, Chandler said.

Connie Llanos can be reached at

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