MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A troubled Hickory Hill daycare owner’s license was revoked by the state Wednesday.
On a conference call that lasted less than 15 minutes, Tennessee’s Child Care Agency Review Board voted on a settlement agreement it reached with Nurturing Young Minds owner Senese Duhart to revoke her annual license. The daycare has been closed since a fire in October.
The agreement cited 24 violations state regulators found at the daycare this year alone.
There were supervision violations like a child left on the playground alone.
The day care also failed to complete criminal background checks on some of its employees, and transported kids without getting authorization from the state.
According to the agreement, the daycare will cease operations as of Dec. 7.
Duhart can re-apply for a license in six months. A spokesperson from the Department of Human Services says a full, revocation would have required Duhart to wait a year to re-apply for a license.
If Duhart applies for a new license, the settlement agreement also requires she completes training in supervision and record keeping/business management.
The order also stated DHS will assist parents in finding a new daycare if necessary.
WREG found, however, the disciplinary action taken against Duhart may be too little, too late.
Duhart already owns another child care center, Discovery Learning Academy.
State regulators allowed her to open the facility earlier this year, even as she continued to rack up serious violations at Nurturing Young Minds.
Also, families may not need assistance because after that October fire at Nurturing Young Minds, several children moved to Discovery Learning Academy.
Discovery Learning Academy has also been cited for recent violations, and News Channel 3 talked to workers in November who hadn’t been paid in a month.
One said, “Something stricter needs to happen. They couldn’t deny another center…her to open another center, they just opened a whole ‘nother can of worms.”
WREG learned Duhart is also facing eviction at both Nurturing Young Minds, and at Discovery Learning Academy. Court records show between both centers, Duhart owes almost $140,000 in rent.
News Channel 3 asked DHS about the order and if it was sufficient given the owner’s history, along with the fact that it doesn’t affect children attending the new center.
Spokesperson Sky Arnold said by email, “The safety of children is always our first priority however and for that reason we have made frequent unannounced visits while this process has been playing out and we have placed multiple educators and the director herself under safety plans at various points to ensure children were safe.”
He also said the although the revocation at Nurturing Young Minds doesn’t affect Discovery Learning Academy, “The Department is taking the necessary steps to ensure licensure compliance at Discovery Learning Academy given the violations found there.”
Parents can visit this state website to search for child care in their community and learn about previous violations.