Lawsuit Claims Unsanitary Conditions, Abuse Have Plagued L.I. Daycare

FREEPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island daycare said it was blindsided Wednesday by a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former coworker.

But as CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Carousel of Learning has been cited for multiple violations. And now a lawsuit alleges unsanitary conditions and even child-on-child sexual abuse happened at the facility.

Worried parents came looking for answers Wednesday upon hearing that the Nassau County daycare could be in danger of losing its license.

“There was no one overseeing anything,” said former employee Shaniece Ford. “It was literally a zoo.”

Ford was fired, she said, for lodging complaints and reporting concerns to the state regarding Carousel of Learning – which has locations in Baldwin and Freeport.

Ford alleged that the children were given dirty utensils and moldy bread and pasta to eat. She said she also saw cockroaches and sinks and toilets.

Ford also said there was mingling of older and younger age groups that led to a horrific situation. She said she allowed her 4-year-old son to attend the programs at Carousel of Learning, but then a 10-year-old fondled her son on a Carousel school bus.

Upon finding out about that, Ford said she went to police, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported. Victims Services is investigating.

“My son’s innocence is what breaks my heart, and all the kids’ innocence,” Ford said, “I don’t know that he’s going to recover from this. I pray to God that he forgets that this happened to him.”

Ford is among those suing Carousel under the labor law whistleblower statute.

“The reason we are bringing this lawsuit is as a shield to protect the most vulnerable in our society; to protect the students who are attending this daycare center,” said Ford’s attorney, Ken Mollins.

Carousel of Learning released a statement late Wednesday calling the allegations baseless.

“Without so much as even the suggestion of evidence or allowing for due process, an allegation has been made by disgruntled former employees who know that facts are irrelevant when destroying the reputation of an institution whose mission is to provide a safe and healthy environment for children,” a spokesman said in the statement. “In the wake of this baseless charge we welcome local and state authorities to conduct a thorough review of our facilities and we will be cooperating with any investigation that looks at these allegations.”

A Carousel manager also told McLogan by phone that they “absolutely deny these allegations, absolutely.”

Since 2015, Carousel has been cited for:

• Unsupervised children;
• Unregulated heat;
• Unsanitary conditions;
• Insufficient teacher-student ratio.

Carousel Claims the citations are about fines not being paid, and all violations have been corrected.

But other parents such as Shatya Brailsford pulled their children out of Carousel.

“I wouldn’t suggest anybody to bring their kid there,” she said.

It is unclear how much time carousel will be given to comply. before the state acts on a possible license revocation.

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