Woman who tried to drug toddlers given six-month jail sentence

Deborah Gratz stands in court for a plea hearing Thursday afternoon at the South County Courthouse with her lawyer Brian Worthington. Gratz pled no contest to five counts of child endangerment, including four girls and one boy, for an incident on March 11

The Hollister woman who pleaded no contest to trying to slip sleep-aid medication to toddlers under her care at a Morgan Hill daycare facility was sentenced to six months in Santa Clara County Jail Monday, according to authorities. 

Deborah Gratz, 59 of Hollister, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Kenneth Shapero following a hearing at South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill. She was sentenced to six months in jail followed by four years of formal probation, with a list of conditions for her release during probation, according to Deputy District Attorney Sumerle Davis. 

In May, Gratz pleaded no contest to five counts of attempted child endangerment as part of a plea bargain with the D.A.’s office. 

The misdemeanor charges stem from Gratz’ attempt to put a sleep-aid drug known as Sominex into the sippy-cups of some children under her care at Kiddie Academy daycare in Morgan Hill, authorities said. Gratz had worked at the daycare business since 2007, and has worked in the childcare field for about 20 years. 

The attempted drugging occurred in early March, according to police. Another employee of Kiddie Academy saw Gratz place an unknown substance into the sippy cups of about 10 toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2. 

Staff at Kiddie Academy determined that Gratz had placed the over-the-counter sleep-aid medication in the children’s drinks, police said. The staff fired Gratz and reported the attempted drugging to Morgan Hill police. 

Officers investigated the incident, and arrested Gratz March 11 at her home in Hollister. 

None of the children were harmed by Gratz’ actions, police said. 

Police added that Gratz had a “spotless” record during her career as a daycare professional until the incident at Kiddie Academy was reported. 

Gratz remains out of custody, but she is required to report to South County Courthouse to begin serving her six-month sentence in jail Sept. 27, Davis said.

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