JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A child care center in the Lackawanna area of Jacksonville's Westside said one its employees was fired after guardians of a 3-year-old boy said the child claimed to have been mistreated at the hands of a faculty member.
The mother and grandmother of the boy, whom News4Jax has chosen not to name because of his young age, said they reported the incident that happened Tuesday at Busy Bee's Learning Center on West Beaver Street.
"He said, 'Grandma, guess what? I was in the dark.' I said, 'What you mean you was in the dark?' He said, 'I was in the closet.' I got teary-eyed," said Judy Wright, the boy's grandmother. "I had to calm down because I was, like, 'Are they torturing my grandson?'"
Lakeisha Wright, the boy's mother, said she confronted management at the child care center.
"What closet? What closet? None of the classrooms have closets in them. What closet is he talking about? And he said, 'The stairs,'" Lakeisha Wright said. "Where they have all of their utilities stuff and doors, paint -- right there on the staircase. So, I am, like, this is very unacceptable because what if my child got hurt? What if he got scared? And it’s dark here and he don’t know where to go at and he could have run into something and hurt himself.'"
Lakeisha Wright said the explanation she was provided was, "Yes, I put him in the closet to intimidate him."
"It was heartbreaking," Judy Wright said. "It made me feel as if I couldn’t protect him at this time."
News4Jax stopped by Busy Bee's Learning Center on Thursday and was given the following statement:
"This was an unfortunate incident. As soon as it was brought to our attention, the Department of Children and Families was contacted and the employee was immediately terminated. The safety and well being of our children is are our number one priority."
Lakeisha Wright explained that her son has always been a talker.
"When it came down to working with him, it came so that he was speaking very fluently, having sentences. He has been talking like this since he was 1. It is very advanced for his age," she said. "At the end of the day, this could have been someone else's child she did this to, but mine spoke up."
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said parents should always ask their children how their day went and what happened at school. Jefferson said it might be annoying to them, but it's a way for parents to keep them safe and be their child's advocate.