Day care where baby was burned faces shutdown, former workers indicted

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two former workers from a Southeast Memphis daycare were in court Thursday morning, facing charges connected to a 2017 incident that left a baby with chemical burns.

Zakilya Nickens and Ebony Terry were indicted in March of 2018 for aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect.

Meanwhile, the daycare itself is in trouble again, and WREG learned some parents don’t know about all the problems.

Nurturing Young Minds Owner Senese Duhart didn’t speak when News Channel 3 tried to ask about the state revoking her daycare’s license for the second time in two years.

While Duhart quietly walked away from WREG, it might be much more difficult to get away from the mounting problems facing her daycare.

In June, state regulators issued Duhart a ‘Notice of Revocation of License’ for Nurturing Young Minds.

According to the document, since opening four years ago, the daycare’s been cited for 27 violations.

In 2016, the Department of Human Services issued the facility its first revocation order after finding numerous violations.

► Day care has history of issues with the state, despite high rating 

The center reached a settlement agreement, avoided a shutdown and paid a $1,000 penalty.

In 2017, Nurturing Young Minds was hit with a $500 civil penalty after violations related to an incident where video showed a teacher yanking seven-month-old William Durden Jr. out of a crib.

Regulators found the same teacher intentionally sprayed the baby’s face with cleaning solution after he became fussy.

Records reveal the daycare didn’t properly notify the state, or the parents.

William Durden Sr. told WREG during a 2017 interview, “Speechless, is what you are when you see a child with this much skin damage to his face.”

Nickens and Terry faced a judge for a brief court date Thursday. Neither wanted to speak about the pending charges.

Russell Jordan represents the Durdens in the lawsuit they filed against Nurturing Young Minds, its owner and the two former workers.

“He`s doing better, he still has some issues,” said Jordan of little William’s injuries.

Court filings show the day care denies allegations of negligence.

Jordan told WREG, “For them to not take responsibility for the actions of the employees that they have hired , investigated, retained, supervised, trained, that’s, that’s pretty troubling.”

Nurturing Young Minds was temporarily closed after a small fire in October, so parents have been taking their children to Duhart’s new center, Discovery Learning Academy.

We talked to several parents off camera who said they didn’t know the day care could soon be forced to shut its doors due to so many serious problems.

A closer look at the day care’s recent records reveal violations for supervision, teacher/student ratios and transportation.

WREG also reviewed 25 complaints filed against the center in 2018.

These included a number of allegations of inappropriate sexual contact between children.

Documents show while those allegations weren’t validated, regulators did find incidents where kids were left unsupervised in the bathroom.

Regulators confirmed staff members were later required to go through special training.

The revocation order documents violations such as a child left inside while his class went outside, as well as an incident where a one-year-old was left alone on the playground.

The daycare was also transporting children without proper authority.

According to the same records, the owner gave state workers false information about children’s ages and hired workers without background checks.

Durden said, “With the numerous issues legal issues, troubles, violations, that they’ve had, I’m surprised they’ve been allowed to remain open much less open a second facility.”

WREG asked DHS about that second daycare, which online records show was opened in early 2018.

In an email, a spokesperson said, “It’s our policy to treat each child care license independently.  In this case Senese Duhart met the necessary qualifications for a license in April to operate the Discovery Learning Academy including passing a background check and meeting necessary safety guidelines.  It’s against our policy to deny a license for one child care agency because of problems at another agency.”

DHS also said Nurturing Young Minds is required to notify parents about the revocation order because it’s a legal action.

The spokesperson said the facility is also required to notify parents about any critical violations that put children at imminent risk of harm, along with orders such as a probation notice.

Parents can search for a facility’s compliance history online. However, legal notices like revocation orders and civil penalties aren’t posted.

There’s a hearing regarding the revocation order for Nurturing Young Minds in December.

The next court date for Nickens and Terry has been set for January.

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