CHARLOTTE, N.C. - An exclusive Channel 9 interview is shedding new light on why the Primrose School of Ballantyne was shut down by the state regulators.
The North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education issued a summary suspension Thursday against Primrose after a teacher, Joseph Starnes, was arrested and accused of inappropriately touching children.
Robert Bolton's son was enrolled at the Primrose School of Ballantyne at the start of 2016 when he said the school called his wife and informed her that their 1-year-old son was slapped in the face by a teacher for spilling milk.
"I thought I was going in the school and just lose my mind. You're hitting a kid because he dropped milk," Bolton said.
He said another employee witnessed the incident and reported teacher Katelyn Forgo to the school, but the parents were not immediately notified.
"They didn't tell us the actual incident occurred, and that's really what was so troubling," Bolton explained.
He said the internal whistleblower eventually contacted the state.
"The only reason they told us was because they knew the state would be following up to conduct an investigation," Bolton said.
Forgo was charged with assault on a child, but her case was dismissed when the eyewitness couldn't be found to testify.
Channel 9 uncovered more than a dozen similar violations at the school dating back to 2014.
State Rep. Scott Stone is asking the Mecklenburg County district attorney to conduct a criminal investigation into owners Mary and Craig Schroeder after Starnes’ arrest earlier this week.
"I think they should have a criminal investigation into the owners. Not only because of that incident that occurred but because of the series of all the other incidents that occurred," Bolton said.
Only Channel 9 was at the school Friday as about a dozen employee carried their belongings out the door. The school lost both its state operating license and its franchise license on Thursday.
Channel 9 reporter Paul Boyd spoke briefly with owner Craig Schroeder Friday. He declined to comment on the specific allegations of Channel 9’s story.
The husband-and-wife owners walked quickly to their vehicles late Friday afternoon after locking the front doors, and drove away.
Mary Schroeder released a statement on Friday saying:
As owner and leader of this school, my heart is breaking for those who have been impacted by this situation. On behalf of our wonderful, loving faculty and staff that made up our school family, we are all saddened.
The lives of our parents, children, and employees have been significantly disrupted. But, the relationships and greater good that has been shared in this school will not be forgotten. I have met personally with most of our parents in the last three days and the support from those who know us best has been incredible.
We look forward to the opportunity to speak on our behalf and carefully examine the facts of this case within a fair and just setting. Thank you for the outpouring of support from all facets of our community. Your caring response has sustained us during these difficult times.
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