PLANT CITY, Fla. -- An investigation into a Plant City day care center has been cleared.
Both employees and parents came forward to ABC Action News in April, claiming children were being spanked. But after three months, the day care owner, Abdel Ahmed, says Kids Town Learning Center has been vindicated.
“There is no evidence whatsoever,” Ahmed said this is the first and only day care he and his wife own.
The couple opened Kids Town Learning Center in April 2018 and was serving about 45 children, employing five staff members before the news broke.
“It was kind of heartbreaking to see everything falling down,” Ahmed said.
As of July 2019, no one is attending the day care but Ahmed hopes to change that after Ahmed says the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office sent a letter clearing him and the day care of any wrongdoing. ABC Action News also contacted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office which confirmed to us the investigation had been cleared but could not tell give anymore information on findings, if any, because the case dealt with children.
“We stood firm because we knew we didn’t do anything wrong we are going to prove these are false allegations,” he said.
According to Ahmed, child protective investigators went through his facility, interviewed parents and children who were attending Kids Town Learning Center as well as himself. Ahmed also showed ABC Action News documents which pinpointed times and dates of injuries any child would have sustained, and that they were caused by rough-housing or children accidentally injuring themselves.
Haley King, a former employee of the day care, says she stands by what she first told ABC Action News in spring 2019.
“The owner's wife was spanking him and that was on the Friday that I called DCF because I had had enough” King stated in April.
We reached back out to King after Ahmed claimed she was one of the disgruntled employees who started the allegations. In a message she told ABC Action News,
“I wasn’t a disgruntled employee because I made the report before I got fired. He fired me because I made the report,” King said.
She also warned parents who they hire to watch their children.
“Hopefully, parents will do their research before putting the kids in day care,” King added.
ABC Action News did look up the Kids Town Learning Center records on the Department of Children and Families provider search and found multiple violations since the day care opened in 2018.
Citations included not giving employees background checks, not having enough supervision, leaving children alone and a report of rodents.
The most recent allegation according to DCF records was in March of 2018 when the center was cited for physical punishment. The county cited Kids Town Learning Center and fined Ahmed $500. Ahmed disputed the county’s citation saying the child at the center of that accusation left without markings but returned with scratches on his/her body.
“Does this make me really upset and angry? Absolutely, because this does not happen,” he said.