Three former employees of a day care center affiliated with Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth were given probationary terms after being charged with failing to adequately care for a nine-week-old boy who died at the facility.
The incident occurred Sept. 10, 2014, when Highland Park police were called to the Above and Beyond Childcare Center on South Third Avenue at 2:19 p.m. and arrived to find the unnamed infant in distress. Police rushed the child to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where he was pronounced dead at 2:45 p.m.
The death was later determined to be Sudden Infant Death. Placing the infant on his stomach and leaving him unattended for two hours was found to be a contributing factor, according to the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office.
Tanya Choy, 36, of Martinsville was placed on three years’ probation in the Pre Trial Intervention Program, which allows the charges to be expunged from her record upon successful completion of the term. She pleaded guilty to a count of endangering the welfare of a child after admitting she placed the infant face down in a crib and failed to check on him.
Her coworkers, Lorie McDermott, 49, of Milltown and Blanca Jimenez, 61, of Edison, who had also been charged with child endangerment, were admitted to the Pre Trial Intervention Program for two years.
Each of the three is also required to pay the infant’s family $1,704.01 in restitution to cover some family expenses.
The three were admitted to the PTI program following an agreement reached with assistant prosecutor Lisa Miralles Walsh and approved by Superior Court Judge Diane Pincus.
The center serves infants age six weeks through preschool. According to the temple, the fully equipped center meets or exceeds state Division of Children and Family Services standards in all areas, including surpassing the teacher-to-child ratio by requiring that at least two teachers are assigned in each classroom. All of its full-time staff members are CPR and first aid certified.
The center is state licensed and nonsectarian, although the curriculum is “enriched with Jewish values.”
The defendants were charged following an investigation by Det. Don Newton of the Highland Park Police Department and Det. Sgt. Frank DiNinno of the prosecutor’s office.