Charges against ex-Tick Tock director dropped

By all accounts, a contentious case involving the Tick Tock Early Learning Center ended amicably in district court.

Science kits prepared for children in low-income families became a source of conflict in a case involving the Tick Tock Early Learning Center. Photo by Jackie Maas

Science kits prepared for children in low-income families became a source of conflict in a case involving the Tick Tock Early Learning Center. Photo by Jackie Maas

In January, the former executive director of the center, which has been providing affordable childcare and early childhood education to low-income families in southern Chester County since 1964, was charged with theft.

On Friday, April 3, Assistant District Attorney John Rafferty dismissed the charges against Jackie H. Maas, 60, of East Marlborough Township, in accordance with an agreement reached between both sides in the dispute.

The settlement, which included a $500 restitution payment from Maas, averted a preliminary hearing and prompted prepared statements that expressed relief over the outcome from all the parties.

“The board of directors of Tick Tock is grateful to see an end to this difficult process and the return of our property and donation monies,” a Tick Tock statement said. “We are very appreciative to the New Garden Police Department, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, and our lawyer, Peter Kratsa from MacElree Harvey, for their support and representation in this matter.”

Maas’ attorney, Leonard J. Rivera, said he was pleased with the resolution. “By dismissing the charges, the District Attorney’s Office has concluded that no criminal activity was intended or committed,” Rivera’s statement said.

According to court records, the conflict surfaced when Maas began an employment separation process with Tick Tock in August. At the time, both parties acknowledged that Maas had science kits and a $500 donation that belonged to Tick Tock. In an exchange of letters, representatives from Tick Tock requested the return of the kits, valued at $3,100, and Maas acknowledged having them, records said.

A second issue emerged when Maas accepted a $500 donation from an Aug. 9 fundraiser, held at the Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery the day after Maas’ resignation. Maas said that she took the money because no other Tick Tock representative attended the event and that she would not return it until she got compensation for monies owed to her, court records said.

In November, Tick Tock hired Kratsa to help recover its property, and on Dec. 18, New Garden Township Police began a month-long investigation. On Jan. 15, police executed a search warrant at Maas’s residence, seizing 190 science kits from her basement and leading to felony theft charges, court records said.

A preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Matthew Seavey scheduled for Feb. 20 did not occur because both sides were attempting to negotiate a settlement.

On Friday, after the judge said that Maas had met her obligation, he approved the settlement. His remarks prompted Maas to ask whether the judge should apologize for his earlier treatment of her, but then she quickly backed off the question.

Outside the courtroom, Maas said, “I am thrilled that this is over, and I have been fully exonerated.”  She said that the science kits, which she designed and built, had not been finished when the center requested them, which is why she didn’t return them.

Lele Galer, who owns the winery with her husband, attended both of the court proceedings. She said that she had no problem with Maas’ using the donation money to complete the kits, which she said would ultimately benefit the children.

“While I am very sorry to see the unnecessary damage that these ridiculous charges have done to Jackie Maas and Tick Tock, I am very happy to see this issue completely dismissed by the court,” Galer said in an email after the hearing.

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