A Summerville Montessori School of the Arts teacher is accused of abusing her students, Dorchester County sheriff’s deputies said today.

A teacher’s assistant told deputies she saw a teacher lock 4-year-old students in a dark bathroom and force them to sit on the floor.

On another occasion, the teacher forced a child to eat by holding the girl’s head back until she swallowed, the assistant reported.

The assistant told deputies she saw the teacher place duct tape over a child’s mouth more than once.

The assistant turned to deputies after school administrators didn’t do anything to address the issue, an incident report states.

The accusations are still under investigation and the teacher has not been arrested, sheriff’s Maj. John Garrison said,

Summerville Montessori School of the Arts is a private school for children from age 2 to second grade, according to the school’s website.

School director Elizabth Cain said the accused teacher was immediately put on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Cain also said she went to the Sheriff’s Office as soon as she learned of the accusations and was told investigators could not talk with her at that time.

”I left my contact information and asked that someone contact me as soon as possible,” she said. “They have contacted us at this point and the investigation is underway. We are fully cooperating on this matter.”

She also said detectives have asked her to refrain from making statements about the case.

“Please know the safety and well being of the children is our top priority at all times,” Cain said,

Check back with postandcourier.com as more details become available.