Follow-up Notice Regarding Incident on 8/4/2020

We are grateful to report that the self-reported State investigation into the incident on August 4th, 2020 confirmed our previous understanding that no children were left unsupervised, nor was there any abuse or neglect. It was clear from the full surveillance recordings that the child had been directly transferred to another staff member waiting in the hallway.

The incident involved a teacher’s response to a child who was biting another child on the face. The teacher immediately responded, calling for assistance, separating the children, and then transferring the child to another staff member while she tended to the needs of the injured student. The child was returned to the class shortly, after she finished administering aid. One lesser issue, whether the transfer was consistent with positive guidance, remains under review. The teacher had been disciplined for incorrectly lifting the child as she was attempting to separate the two and stop the biting. This action, while likely preventing injury to the other child, was not consistent with school policy. But again, no child was ever left unattended for any time, nor was any abuse found, nor are we aware of any harm as had been claimed by several individuals.

Unfortunately, this child behavioral issue and the teacher’s response appears to have been greatly exaggerated by two former staff members. False and mischaracterized accusations were spread widely to families and via social media. It is our opinion this may have been intentional to damage the reputation of the school for private motives. However, every experience is a learning experience. And we will certainly improve our policies, especially with regards to children with severe biting behaviors.

In this case, Sprouting Star followed all state regulations on reporting the incident, and cooperated fully. We are additionally grateful that no abuse, neglect, nor supervision deficiencies were found by the State.

8/14/2020 message to families immediately following the incident…

DATE: August 14, 2020
TO: Sprouting Star Families
SUBJECT: Follow-up on Resignation of Former Director

FOLLOW-UP ANNOUNCEMENT

The following is a follow-up to the resignation of the previous
center director.

We have had a number of inquiries into the situation surrounding
the former director’s departure. Due to these questions, and
statements that have been made on social media by her and/or her
associates, further information seems appropriate.

This director was employed by the center since January of 2019, and
while she was taking more classroom responsibility during the COVID
crisis, she retained her position on the management team and was
integral to the classroom operations. She was also a Sprouting Star
parent, and her child has attended Sprouting Star for the last two
years.

WHAT HAPPENED

On August 4, 2020 the former director reported that her child, a
student here at Sprouting Star, was inappropriately disciplined. She
said that after he bit another child, he was removed from the
classroom and placed alone in the hall unsupervised. This would have
been clearly wrong. The accused caregiver was a long-time employee
who is well regarded and had no history of any misconduct. During
this report, the former director stated that she had only partial
information and did not know certain details, such as if anyone was
in the hallway at the time. She also said she had not spoken to the
caregiver. The former director was both part of the management team
and the child's parent and agreed to investigate further.

A meeting was arranged for the following morning the next day. This
meeting never happened because the former director did not report to
work the next morning. It was discovered at that point that the
former director had left a resignation letter citing this incident
as the reason for her resignation.

Examining video evidence, it was determined that the child was not
left unsupervised. The assistant director had been called and was
waiting outside the doorway, and directly received him from the
caregiver. However, the video did show the caregiver lifted the
child by the arm when separating him from the child being bitten and
exiting the classroom. Lifting by the arm is absolutely prohibited
due to the potential for injury. It is our understanding that
thankfully no injury occurred. However, this was still improper
procedure. The caregiver was immediately reprimanded. This was also
self-reported to the State, as required by law.

WHAT WE DO IN SITUATIONS LIKE THIS

Whenever a concern is raised, it is treated seriously. This goes for
concerns of staff parents as well. The first step is to ensure
safety. Then we allow due process to ascertain the facts, to the
best of our ability, before further action is taken. It is important
to know exactly what happened and give everyone involved a chance to
provide what information they have. This can usually be done quite
quickly examining video and speaking to those involved. If the
allegation is one of abuse or neglect, it is reported by the center
to Child Care Licensing within 48 hours. Sprouting Star faithfully
complied with such procedures here.

WHAT WE DID

When the former director reported the incident, we immediately began
an investigation. This case was unique as the parent and management
were the same person. For this reason, the school president did ask
the former director at that time if she preferred that he take over
and call the meeting with the caregiver. She stated unequivocally
that she was comfortable having that discussion and did not need
assistance, but then failed to attend the meeting with the
caregiver.

We immediately picked up where she had left off: reviewed video,
held the meeting, took disciplinary action, and reported the
incident as required.

The caregiver has been disciplined. As of the present time, she has
not been terminated. The reason for this is that the caregiver has
identified special circumstances leading to her improper lift. The
caregiver reported, and the video supported, that the child who was
removed had been biting another child, and the caregiver was acting
to protect, not punish. Additionally, the video reflected that the
lifting, while not proper, was neither prolonged, nor apparently for
any purpose other than separating the two children.

Sprouting Star has not made a final determination. We are now
working cooperatively with State authorities to evaluate this
situation. Until this investigation is over, and we hear what they
have determined, a final decision would be premature.

Sprouting Star is, additionally, disturbed by the behavior of the
former director in this instance. The former director used her
access as a center director to remove video evidence from the center
without permission and against policy and federal law, then released
selected clips of this video to cause a social media campaign
against the caregiver and school. This campaign perpetuates the
claim that the child was left alone, which has been established as
inaccurate. This campaign attempts to try the caregiver by Internet,
and denies her of her due process in company and State procedures.
This has created considerable stress for all caregivers at the
center. This campaign also was undertaken with the suggestion that Sprouting Star had not taken action to investigate and address this
matter, a suggestion we find especially insincere since the former
director agreed to participate in the investigation, but then
decided to skip her meeting with the caregiver and publish the video
on the Internet. We regret this action, and will ask for her to
return all property which does not belong to her.

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