TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County's Childcare Licensing office has petitioned a hearing officer to shut down the Orient Road Child Development Center.
During a hearing on August 20, Senior Assistant County Attorney Sheri Murphy argued there is no other option but to revoke the facility's license. Murphy cited two severe violations since 2017 in which county officials said daycare staff endangered the lives of a four-year-old and an infant.
"They failed to execute the basic requirements of childcare," said Murphy.
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One of the cases involves Trinity McCoggle and her son Adonis. McCoggle called 911 on January 25 when she arrived at the daycare to pick up her 7-month-old, and a worker had given the infant to another woman without asking for identification. McCoggle testified she wants to see the daycare shut down. Later McCoggle told ABC Action News, "Stuff keeps happening. I don't think it's safe at all. What if my baby didn't come back?"
The attorney representing the owner, Dr. Danice Donaldson, argued the county's petition to shut down the longstanding daycare is overly harsh. Roland Hermida said Orient Road Child Development Center should not be put out of business over what he called an employee's mistake. Hermida asked the hearing officer to consider the fact that the facility has served the black community since 1992.
According to county records, the Orient Road Child Development Center lost track of another child in their care in early 2017. Daycare employees left a four-year-old girl inside a broken-down van. Mikala Wilkins woke up alone, got out of the van and wandered into a nearby building where someone contacted the sheriff's office.
The daycare's manager La Candice Donaldson, whose mother owns the facility, said they fired the workers responsible in both cases.
"We have standards and policies and procedures in place, and we had a staff member that just did not follow that," Donaldson said as she also told ABC Action News they no longer have an infant care program.
In Adonis's case, an elderly woman who thought she'd picked up her nephew returned him to the daycare within an hour. His case prompted then-interim Hillsborough County Childcare Licensing Director Lisa Bragano to review the facility's inspection history.
ABC Action News pulled the reports and found 42 violations in the last four years. Twenty-four were classified as class three, which are considered minor. 17 were class two violations, which are more serious such as too many children per teacher in a class. And in February, the center was hit with a class one violation, the most severe over what happened to Adonis.
The hearing officer has 15 business days to issue a recommended order. Child Care Licensing then has 15 calendar days to make a final decision.