CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) - The owners of a local daycare shut down by the state addressed the allegations for the first time since the daycare had its license suspended and its franchise yanked.
FOX 46 Charlotte first broke this story and we’ve continued to break new details throughout the week. Our crew was at the daycare Friday expecting the parking lot to be empty but in the early afternoon, the place was packed with workers going in and out, carrying boxes of stuff.
Just before 4 p.m., the owners of Primrose School of Ballantyne walked out.
Mary Schroeder and her husband Craig got in their separate cars and drove away from the daycare for what may be the last time. The daycare they own has been shut down by the state, had its license pulled by the Primrose franchise, and now a state lawmaker said Mary, Craig and the assistant director and the director should all face criminal charges.
“Clearly, they shouldn’t be running daycares but if they are engaged in criminal activity, even though it may not have intended to be criminal, this is child endangerment,” Representative Scott Stone said.
Stone is pushing for prosecution against the daycare administrators and owners after the State of North Carolina said they allowed Joseph Starnes to continue to come to work at the daycare and be around kids after they knew there were allegations that he molested children.
“We need to make sure that these folks know that they’re going to be held accountable, if they’re in charge of children, it’s a very, very serious responsibility,” Stone said.
FOX 46 Charlotte went to Mary Schroeder’s house on Friday and no one came to the door. The pair was seen walking out of the daycare late Friday afternoon.
Mary Schroeder sent a statement Friday which said in part:
“As owner and leader of this school, my heart is breaking for those who have been impacted by this situation. On behalf of our wonderful, loving faculty and staff that made up our school family, who are all saddened.” The statement goes on to say, “We look forward to the opportunity to speak on our behalf and carefully examine the facts of this case within a fair and get setting.”
Starnes is now facing multiple charges but staff members told FOX 46 Charlotte long before the charges came to light, they went to administrators with allegations that Starnes was inappropriately touching children, and nothing was done about it.
The daycare also faced other issues. State reports allege a staff member slapped a child and in another case, a staff member was criminally charged for grabbing a child and hitting him in the head.
“When there are signs that are very clear, you’ve got to take immediate action,” Stone said.
Representative Stone doesn’t believe Craig and Mary Schroeder did that, and he wants to make sure they’re held responsible.
FOX 46 Charlotte checked with CMPD and they will not comment specifically on whether they’re investigating the Schroeders and the daycare administrators. They simply said the entire investigation, which may only include the allegations against Starnes, is ongoing.
The District Attorney’s Office also would not speak about the situation.
If you would like to research your child's daycare there are a number of ways you can check:
For main 'compliance history' page from North Carolina's Child Care Services, click here
Search page where you can look up specific Child Care providers, click here
A Glossary with terms of compliance from NC Child Care Services, click here