Former daycare employees speak out about alleged inappropriate touching

- FOX 46 Charlotte is uncovering more disturbing details about the daycare worker accused of touching children inappropriately at a school in Ballantyne.

Now, teachers are coming forward saying they told the administration about the inappropriate behavior and nothing was done.

Vanegas Woodard worked alongside Joseph Starnes at Primrose Academy as his assistant teacher for about one year.

Related: Former Charlotte daycare worker accused of forcibly fondling multiple students

“I saw him with kids on his lap, and he would lean back,” she said.  

Woodard said she documented what she saw, taking video with the iPad in the classroom and went to administration with her concerns.

“It’s disappointing that they didn’t take action prior to this…could have been prevented,” she said.

Woodard left Primrose in October 2016 after she said the school administration didn’t do anything about her concerns.

“I didn’t feel comfortable. I didn’t want to be a part of it,” she said.

Woodard isn’t the only teacher that left after observing alleged inappropriate behavior between Starnes and the children.

“Mr. Starnes was holding a Kindergarten student on his lap and when I walked into the room, he pushed the child off his lap,” said a former teacher who asked FOX 46 Charlotte to hide her identity.

She said she immediately went to the director to explain what she saw.

“As teachers, we are obligated to tell what I thought was right, to the administration,” she said.

The former teacher said the State Division of Child Development and Early Education came out to the school and interviewed seven teachers, including Mr. Starnes.

FOX 46 Charlotte called the state and was told ‘any unsubstantiated complaints are confidential.’

Latasha McIlwaine is a family therapist and said parents should look for signs in their children that something may be wrong.

“The child may be more secretive. The child may be a little withdrawn, or more clingy to mom or dad,” she explained.

McIlwaine said some kids react ‘physically’ to inappropriate behavior by an adult at school or daycare.

“Bedwetting, soiling their clothes, anxiety sets in as well and that would cause them to be on edge or not be able to make it to the bathroom,” she said.

Starnes is facing six counts of indecent liberties with a child after allegedly touching two boys, ages 7 and 8, inappropriately.

The former teachers from Primrose warn others to speak up if they know something because there may be more victims out there.   

Statement from Primrose School of Ballantyne:

"The safety and security of the children in our care is always our top priority. When an incident occurs that does not meet our standards, we report to and work hand-in-hand with state licensing to take corrective actions.

Primrose Schools has many safety and security policies, including those related to background checks. All employees hired by the Primrose School of Ballantyne undergo the criminal background check process as well as reference checks and working interviews.

We are fully cooperating with authorities as their investigation of Mr. Starnes continues. Moving forward, our focus is on connecting with our families and maintaining the comfort of daily routines for our children and staff."

NEXT: Additional victims identified after former daycare worker accused of fondling students

NEXT: Primrose School of Ballantyne loses license over allegations against former worker

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