Auburn daycare investigated for alleged abuse

Auburn daycare investigated for alleged abuse

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - A Lee County mother tells News Leader 9 she saw her toddler's daycare teacher hit her with a metal sleeping cot.

The incident allegedly happened in May at Hardy's Creative Childcare in Auburn.

News Leader 9 confirmed that the Alabama Department of Human Resource investigated and substantiated the complaint made by this Auburn mother and listed the incident as involving corporal and physical punishment of a child.  News Leader 9 has also learned a second deficincy report has been filed with Hardy's Creative Childcare. This report was filed in June and involved the rough or harsh handling of a child.

Tuesday, the mother involved in one of these complaints, sat down for an exclusive interview..

Sno Todd tells us since her daughter Carson was 18 months old, her parents have entrusted Hardy's Creative Childcare to care for her.  Carson's older sister Trinity spent four years at Hardy's, too.

"So I have a very long relationship with all of these people. I never expected this from any of them or anything like that to be going on" Todd said.

Todd says in April, Carson got a new teacher, whose name we are not releasing.

Todd says Carson, who is now 3 years old and potty trained, began having frequent accidents and getting upset, saying her teacher was mean.

"She would cry every day and scream and say she did not want to go to school," Todd said.

Todd was concerned, so she made a surprise visit on May 5.  While watching her daughter from another room on a live video feed, she says she saw the teacher walk towards Carson with metal, sleeping cots.

"She was pulling the cots down for them to take a nap and Carson was sitting on the floor and she did a low swing and it hit Carson in the side,"  her mother said.

Todd says she immediately got her child from the room and told the owner what happened.

"She (the daycare worker admitted to hitting Carson but she said it was a game. I don't know of a game you play with metal and a cot. I asked could I rewind the cameras back and see other days where they played this game, until I went any further with it. The director who has been there for 20 years said she did not know how to work the recorder, so that's when I got upset and I felt like they were hiding something from me" Todd explained.

Todd reported the incident to DHR. The agency substantiated her claims in a report filed May 22 and listed the complaint as corporal or physical punishment. It reads:

"Inappropriate discipline was used by staff while playing a game involving a cot. Staff uses inappropriate discipline in the form of verbal abuse and handling children in a rough manner by grabbing their arms."

Martha Hardy, the owner of the daycare, tells News Leader 9 she did not agree with DHR's finding but still followed corrective actions recommended to them by DHR. She says the staff member involved was not fired and is a "wonderful" and "longtime" employee at the daycare.

"As the owner of Hardy's Creative Childcare, I stand behind our 35 year reputation in the Auburn community and I stand firmly behind my staff," Hardy said.

During our search for more information, News Leader 9 discovered a second deficiency report filed against Hardy's Creative Child Care. This report details rough or harsh handling by a staff member the week of June 9.  This report reads:

"Staff confirmed that there was an incident during the week of June 9-13 that a staff handled a child in a rough/harsh manner. Staff stated that during incident, staff used a threatening tone in talking to the child. Staff stated that another staff has made derogatory remarks to a child that belittle."

Todd says she is upset the teacher still works at the center and has filed a police report.  Meanwhile, Carson is at a new daycare. Her parents say she is no longer having accidents and seems much happier but is still nervous.

"She loves her new teacher, but like I said everyday she asks me mommy are they going to be mean to me? She is scared and scarred and she doesn't want it to happen again and neither do we," Todd said.

Police confirm Todd filed a police report on Monday.  The harassment complaint is being investigated by Auburn police and DHR to see if criminal prosecution is appropriate. We will keep you updated.

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