TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County childcare regulators lost their fight to shut down the Orient Road Child Development Center. A hearing officer instead suspended the facility for two weeks and fined the owner $500.
The decision comes two weeks after a daylong hearing in which county regulators and an attorney for the daycare presented arguments for and against the closing of the facility which has lost two children in their care over the last four years.
In January, a worker handed over 7-month-old Adonis Lucas to the elderly relative of another baby without checking the woman's ID. The baby was returned to the daycare 45 minutes later.
Four and a half years ago, the same daycare left a four-year-old girl alone in a broken-down van on the side of the road.
The hearing officer released their report Friday, citing repeated satisfactory inspections over the last eight months and the fact the facility has only received one Class 1 violation — the most severe — in the last four years.
She recommended the daycare use the two-week suspension on staff training and strengthening measures that will ensure that what happened to Adonis Lucas will not happen to another child.
In both cases, the daycare owner says the employees involved were fired.
Dr. Danice Donaldson told I-Team investigator Jackie Callaway in a statement that she was pleased with the hearing officer’s decision and that, as it has for the past 22 years, Orient Road Child Development Center will continue to “provide quality care to our children and families.”
Dr. Donaldson's full statement can be found below:
"As per your request, I am making my statement to the public reference the recent allegations against my establishment.
The teachers and staff at Orient Road Child Development Center has for the past 22 years provided high-quality education and care to our children in this community, and we will continue to provide quality care to our children and families. I am pleased with the hearing officer's decision to not revoke the license as that would have been a disadvantage to the community and the many parents we serve. Moving forward the licensing department and the center will make sure that we can establish a positive working relationship between us so that we both can better serve our community and the children.
We have made many changes to ensure that this type of violation does not reoccur. Staff involved were terminated and the pickup area was relocated to the front office for better supervision. To the parents of this child, we would like to extend our deepest apology for any emotional trauma that may have occurred due to this incident. We pray that you and your family can forgive this human error made by the previous staff member.
To the community and parents, we serve all staff has been re-trained on all policy’s and new procedures to follow and all rules and regulations for the center and licensing department that regulates the business. We now have no longer accept infants our center accepts children from 12 months and older. We appreciate the community and parents who have stood behind us during this crisis. We have many parents that still support this business and have continued to use my services in spite of the negative publicity."