Even as investigators continue their probe into the death of a toddler at a Lincolnshire day-care center, a parent and a former co-worker said they raised concerns about the suspect, Melissa Calusinski.
The teacher's aide "was sitting in the middle of the room, on a bookshelf . . . staring off into space, like she wasn't even there mentally," said parent Adina Williams, recalling an incident last August when she picked up her daughter at the Arlington Heights day-care center, where Calusinski then worked.
"The kids were running and chasing each other. There was no discipline."
Williams of Palatine said she wrote a letter last August to the administrator of Minee Subee Grand in Arlington Heights, saying that Calusinski needed additional training to work with children.
Calusinksi worked in Arlington Heights until her transfer a few months ago to Minee Subee in the Park in Lincolnshire, where police say she killed the toddler by throwing him forcefully to the ground because he was noisy.
A former co-worker, who asked not to be identified, said she verbally raised concerns about Calusinski to the Arlington Heights administrator after allegedly seeing the aide grab a child's arm.
On Wednesday, relatives and friends packed a Wheeling funeral home to remember 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan. Police say that on Jan. 14, Calusinski threw Benjamin down hard enough to fracture his skull. The toddler crawled with his blanket to a bouncy chair, where he later died, according to police.
Calusinski, 22, of Carpentersville, was charged over the weekend with two counts of first-degree murder and has been held in lieu of $5 million bail. Her father declined to comment on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a 2007 state inspection uncovered three violations at the day-care center where Benjamin died, Minee Subee in the Park, a Department of Children and Family Services official said Wednesday.
The 2007 report said the center failed to notify the agency of "an emergency, accident, unusual incident, disaster or medical problem," and also failed to notify parents. DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe did not elaborate.
The Lincolnshire center was also cited with failing to supervise children, Marlowe said.
Williams said she removed her 4-year-old daughter in August from the Minee Subee in Arlington Heights, in part because the aide seemed unable to control children in her daughter's room.
In a letter, Williams said she told the Arlington Heights center's director, Beth Katz, that Calusinski needed more training to work with children. Katz, the daughter of Minee Subee president Judith Katz, did not return a call for comment.
"This is a tremendously serious matter, and a comprehensive investigation by authorities is still under way," said the day-care center's lawyer, Matt Walsh, in a statement.