Jones Grand Jury Will Hear Daycare Owner's Case

7:47 PM, Jun 30, 2010   |    comments
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A Jones County grand jury in August will decide whether a day-care center owner will face formal reckless-conduct charges.

That's according to Investigator Kenny Gleaton with the Jones County Sheriff's Office.

The sheriff's office says 36-year-old Laverne Stubbs was arrested Monday after she allowed four kids ages 6 through 11 to go onto State Highway 49 unsupervised and told them to walk home -- 15 miles away.

According to Gleaton Stubbs, owner of Kids University, located at 833 Highway 49, sent the four children into the street late Monday morning.

View the Incident Report

Gleaton said Stubbs sent the children out because inspectors from the state's "Bright from the Start" agency, the Department of Early Care and Learning, arrived at the day-care center, and Stubbs feared being cited for overcrowding.

Gleaton said a driver called the police when she saw the kids walking along the highway and immediately pulled over to pick them up.

The four were siblings -- an 11-year-old boy and 6-, 8- and 9-year-old girls. They were found less than a mile from the center.

The driver called the sheriff's office, and a deputy met the woman at a nearby convenience store.

Gleaton says the kids told the deputy Stubbs first asked them to hide behind a shed and then told them to walk home.

"Their house is way on the other side of the county," Gleaton said.  "Way too far for these children to be walking."

An incident report from the sheriff's office says a state inspector first counted 26 children, but later counted 22.

When the inspector found the four children hiding behind the shed, she said Stubbs told her they belonged at a different day care.

Stubbs called another woman to pick up the children, but when she arrived, that woman didn't know the name and phone number of the children's parents, the report said.

Stubbs was charged with four counts of reckless endangerment and released on a $4,000 bond Monday night, Gleaton said.

The daycare was open Tuesday morning and by Wednesday, Stubbs was back at work, according to a worker inside the Kids University facility.

Jones County mother April Deaton called the allegation a one-time incident and says she plans to continue sending her kids to the center Stubbs operates.

"She's never been nothing but good to my kids, my kids love her... if I had any concerns I would not bring my kids here," said Deaton.

Deaton, a mother of three, says she also worked as an assistant at the center for two months this year and says she trusts the workers.

Gleaton said Stubbs "admitted a very poor decision and a wrong decision and expressed a lot of remorse over it. However, when we're dealing with our children like this there's no room for error. There's no leeway on safety like that."

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning says they've visited Kids University four times since June of last year. 

In June 2009, they found 25 kids in a space licensed for 22 kids and told them to "limit the number of children in this space to the licensed capacity," according to state documents.

In September last year, the state agency reported "corporal punishment when a staff popped a six-year-old male on the leg as a method of correcting inappropriate behavior."

This past February inspectors found 13 kids were not supervised briefly during a nap time when a teacher left the room to use the restroom.  "A ratio of 0:13 in the 3-4 age group was observed when the teacher left the room...," according to state documents.  In the same report, inspectors found the center did not have a criminal records check for each staff member.  The agency says the director and employees are required to submit a criminal records check prior to employment in the center.  Two months later, the agency reported Kids University had not fixed the criminal records check problem. 

Investigator Gleaton says Stubbs does not have a criminal history and has owned the center for a couple years.

Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning spokesperson Stacey Moore said they try and make at least one monitoring visit per year at child care centers and said four visits within two years is typical.

Moore said the agency will not comment on Monday's charges against Stubbs until an internal investigation is complete.

"Bright from the Start will continue to monitor the situation including any additional charges that are filed," Moore said.

Stubbs attorney Adrian Patrick says she's innocent of all allegations.

 

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