Parents and teachers outraged over daycare center changes - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Parents and teachers outraged over daycare center changes

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Parents and teachers are concerned after policy changes at the Childrens Nook. Parents and teachers are concerned after policy changes at the Childrens Nook.
MOUNT PLEASANT, SC -

When Sarah O'Brien returned from the holiday break to her job as a teacher at the Childrens Nook on Clements Ferry Road, she was made aware of some big changes.

"We got memos that said, 'Sign this or don't come back to work,'" she said. "When you ask questions they say it's only going to get worse from here so suck it up."

O'Brien claims the owners of the Berkeley County daycare center began requiring that teachers take breaks during the day, outside of their classroom. There were also several other policy changes made that O'Brien said upset a lot of teachers.

Her biggest concern became how the changes would affect the safety of the toddlers she oversees in her classroom.

"It was already affecting how we were able to care for [the children] with these breaks," O'Brien said. "I was told specifically that I had to leave my room, even though I expressed my concern with the fill-in that they put in."

Once parents began hearing how unhappy the policy changes allegedly made the teachers, they began asking the owners questions about why the made those changes.

After failing to get any of the answers they wanted, many of the parents signed a petition demanding to meet with administrators. Once that happened, the parents claim they were asked to pull their children out of the facility.

"It was very traumatic," Jennifer Deman said.  "We were high and dry on a Wednesday with no other options for childcare at all."

Several parents said they received either phone calls or letters from the owners claiming they were not to bring their children back to the center.

O'Brien claims that she, along with several other teachers, quit once they realized the policy changes were in place whether they agreed with them or not.

Parents said that close to 60 children have been withdrawn from the center this week, and 16 teachers have allegedly left since these new policies were implemented.

The lack of teachers, parents claim, is making their children less safe.

"I dropped [my child] off on Tuesday morning, and the teachers didn't know what was going to happen," Tiffany Alexander said. "There was a random teacher in [my child's] classroom that I had never seen before that got pulled out to make sure ratios were aligned in case DSS came for a visit."

Those ratios are regulated by the Department of Social Services. The regulations require that there are no more than 12 students for every one teacher.

News 2 has uncovered that Childrens Nook was cited this week for failing to meet those ratios. A spokesperson with DSS said one three-year-old classroom had 14 students, instead of the maximum of 12. 

The center was also cited for improper supervision because of that ratio violation.

News 2 reached out to the owner of the center for comment on this story, but she declined to comment.

O'Brien has since found another job, but she is still frustrated with the owners for losing sight of their mission.

"Bottom line: those kids are our number priority and that wasn't their priority at all," O'Brien claimed.

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