Baldwin Park – An Orlando day care faces a 90-day suspension after allegations that it failed to protect children from sexual abuse, the Department of Children and Families said.
Bright Horizons at Baldwin Park also faces a $2,500 fine for violating state policies, including the failure to conduct an appropriate background check on an employee and violations resulting in harm to at least two children, according to the DCF report released Wednesday.
The agency found that the “staff at the facility committed one or more acts that meet the definition of child abuse or neglect,” according to Florida law.
The investigation shows that Bright Horizons allowed preschool teacher Jayrico Hamilton, 28, to work with children “prior to an appropriate background screening being performed,” resulting in harm to “at least two children.”
One of Hamilton’s co-workers had reported concerns about his behavior, such as showing favoritism and giving “special treatment” to one of his students, and becoming verbally aggressive with other staff members.
After notifying her supervisor, the co-worker was assigned to a different classroom, the report shows.
Hamilton was previously employed at a child-care facility in Virginia but was fired while on probation after he became aggressive with his superiors, didn’t follow orders and left work without permission while he was on duty.
DCF found that Bright Horizons did not request a reference or abuse-registry check from his previous employer, despite knowing his work history.
Hamilton had a history of abuse in Virginia, the report says.
Two families have filed lawsuits against Hamilton and Bright Horizons, claiming the center failed to protect their two boys, ages 3 and 4.
One was filed June 1 and the other July 18.
DCF spokeswoman Kristin Gray said the temporary suspension is not immediate, and the day care could appeal the decision.
Bright Horizons spokeswoman Bridget Perry said the center, which remains open, plans to appeal the findings of the investigation.
“We have new leadership at the center, and our dedicated teachers remain focused on maintaining solid learning environments and providing exceptional care for children,” she said in a statement, adding that the center has been in communication with DCF.
“During the appeal, the center will be open and we will do whatever we can to continue to support families and staff,” she said.
Orlando Police said they are investigating and that Hamilton has not been charged with a crime.
Bright Horizons — a national day care and preschool business — also has locations in Winter Garden and Windermere.
Lawyers for Hamilton and the day-care center could not be reached for comment.
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Original Post: Orlando Sentinel – http://bit.ly/2xwO0v2