Primrose School of Ballantyne loses state license, franchise after child abuse allegations

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Primrose School of Ballantyne is losing its license after an investigation into one of its former teachers for inappropriate touching, officials said.

According to a notice sent out to parents from the school, the North Carolina State Department of Early Education has decided to suspend the license for at least 30 days depending on the appeal process.

The school said it will be closing at the end of business, 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

NC DHHS released the following statement:

"The N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education is charged with oversight of the safety of child care facilities. Primrose School of Ballantyne’s failure to immediately remove a safety threat posed by their employee, along with a troubling history of noncompliance, resulted in the summary suspension of the facility’s operating license."

On Thursday evening, Primrose School Franchising Company also announced they are terminating the franchise agreement with the daycare:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the students and their families at this time. These incidents are the kind that no parent should ever face. We take these allegations very seriously. We are terminating the franchise agreement with this franchisee.

We are working diligently to support the school’s families to find alternate care solutions for their children, and ask that you refer any further questions to the law enforcement agencies involved in this ongoing investigation."

Employees at Primrose School of Ballantyne were ordered to go home by state officials who arrived at the school Thursday, a source tells FOX 46 Charlotte.

A parent whose child attends the school tells FOX 46 Charlotte that they received a call to pick up their child immediately. 

Department of Health and Human Services arrived with a vast amount of paper work and instructed employees to call parents to pick up their children before ordering them to go home, sources say. 

This comes just two days after an employee at the school was accused of inappropriately touching multiple students who were in his care.

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

Joseph Starnes, 35, of Rock Hill, SC, has been charged with taking indecent liberties with a child in connection to an incident on March 7 involving an 8-year-old boy. During the investigation, detectives found evidence that Starnes had fondled a 7-year-old boy as well. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say they have identified two additional victims, ages 6 and 9, in connection to the case.

Related: 2 additional victims identified after former daycare worker accused of fondling students

Starnes was a former staff member at Primrose School of Ballantyne. School officials confirmed that Starnes is no longer an employee. 

Former teachers of the school have come forward and tell FOX 46 Charlotte that the school was aware of the inappropriate touching and reportedly did nothing.

The two former teachers said they told administration about Starnes' behavior toward children long before he was arrested. In fact, they said the state was called out to the school in September 2016 and interviewed Starnes and other teachers about the allegations. 

Related: Former daycare employees speak out about alleged inappropriate touching

The state told FOX 46 Charlotte their findings were unsubstantiated, and therefore kept confidential.