PEVELY, Mo. — A woman claimed her daughter was abused at a daycare. Now, she said she wants the facility shut down.
The Mini Scholars Preschool and Childcare center in Pevely has had its share of problems over the years. Crystal Sutton of Barnhart wonders why it’s still allowed to operate.
In 2017, Sutton pulled her children, Justice and Clayton, out of the daycare and became a stay-at-home mom. But the decision wasn't financial. She felt her kids were in danger while they were at Mini Scholars.
“I was just constantly nervous,” said Sutton.
She said Christian, then 2-years-old, came home with injuries to his face.
Then, last June, Sutton got a call about an incident involving Justice.
“When I walked in the center they had the video cued up and the video was just appalling. It was heartbreaking. The lady went after her and grabbed her by the arm and she like flung her into the chair.”
Justice had injuries on her arms and back.
“I was mad, I was sad. I felt guilt,” said Sutton.
Pevely Police arrested the teacher involved in the incident but decided not to press charges. A department spokesperson told 5 On Your Side the woman’s actions didn't cross the line into abuse.
An investigator with the Missouri Department of Social Services found the teacher acted inappropriately. But the woman and all other staff were only required to do one hour of training on proper discipline.
“It was insulting. It was hurtful,” said Sutton.
It's been a year, and Sutton said Justice's injuries still haven't fully healed. She cites a bruise on the girl’s back that’s still visible.
Justice's case isn't the first problem at Mini Scholars. Other state investigations found another teacher at the daycare hit a child, there was inadequate supervision at times, staff failed to notify parents of an accident involving a child and staff failed to give a child her medicine.
Sutton feels there's a pattern of trouble at the daycare and she worries it will continue unless something changes.
“We would all, honestly, like to see the business no longer be in business.”
Sherry Wofford, the daycare's director, wouldn't go on camera, but said over the phone the accusations of abuse are false.
5 On Your Side reached out to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to ask what it takes to shut down a facility. A spokeswoman said in an email the state can discipline a daycare, but it's never happened at Mini Scholars. She also said the department can’t comment further on individual facilities or any ongoing investigations.
State records show Mini Scholars did correct the problems found in the investigations.
You can check if your child's daycare is licensed, how many children they can care for and even whether they've been investigated. Click here if the daycare is in Missouri or click here if it’s in Illinois.