COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – The regulator agency for a Martinez preschool launched an investigation into Foundations Christian Preschool. This comes after Columbia County Sheriff’s Office announced it completed its investigation that ended in the arrest of two employees, who were charged.
NewsChannel 6 first told you about a grandmother who came forward to us her family believed her 4-year-old grandson’s teacher, Shannon McCune, abused him. We also learned that a 5-year-old’s mother reported her son being abused. Failure to report that incident lead to the arrest of the preschool’s director, Melinda Williams. She claims that she fired the teacher involved in the alleged abuse back in July when it happened, but did not know she needed to also alert to school’s licensing agency, Bright from the Start.
Now, another mother has come forward to tell us her child was placed in danger at the school. The Deckert family actually settled out of court two years ago. It was a civil case. But when the mother, Crystal, heard about the criminal investigation,she wanted parents to know that the preschool is not telling the full truth about how it cares for kids.
“My daughter Natalie had fallen and she was bleeding pretty bad,” she said.
October 5, 2015 came to mind when Deckert heard the news that both McCune and Williams were charged and in jail. But, both have since bonded out.
“Her face had a gauze on it and it was covered in blood,” she recalled.
Deckert said that October day two years ago she got the call that her one-year-old daughter Natalie fell and had uncontrollable bleeding. But following arrests from accusations of child abuse, the preschool posted to its Facebook page a long note, stating “neither our center nor any of our employees have been the subject of any investigation regarding endangerment of any child prior to now.”
But Deckert said she can recall endangerment.
“Never a call to check on my child to make sure she was ok,” Deckert said. “I would think that they would have to contact the owners to let them know that a child is having plastic surgery. No documentation of it. Nothing.”
It just so happened Bright from the Start, the preschool’s state licensing agency was visiting the center while Deckert’s daughter was in surgery. The $10,000 operation was done to restore the side of her face. But the agency was not informed until the next day when Deckert said she called to report it.
“She was like I was just there. She was like they didn’t say anything about this,” she told us of the call with the Regional Consultant.
And a few days later the agency revealed Foundations failed to properly report Natalie required professional medical attention after her October 5 incident. It also found the preschool did not meet the staffing ratio, all while Melinda Williams was director.
“They claim to be these Christian type people. They like to cover things up. They need to be held accountable,” Deckert said.
She added the family settled out of court in Columbia County for a few thousand dollars last year. We reached out to Foundations Christian Preschool and they declined to talk.
Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins