ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Several months after an investigation into possible improper physical discipline began, an Albany child care facility faced a several-hundred dollar fine.
Monday, WALB received a response to an Open Records Request filed with Bright from the start, Georgia's Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).
In the packet mailed to WALB, details were released regarding the November 2017 investigation into reported physical actions by staff at Byne Child Development Center in Albany.
Earlier this year, Bright from the Start notified the Byne Child Development Center of a $598 fine.
While the paperwork in the Open Records Request appeared to show that Byne CDC had paid the fine in September 2018, the center’s director clarified with WALB Thursday that corrective actions were accepted by the state in lieu of the fine payment.
Yasmine White began as the Byne CDC director on Tuesday of this week.
Thursday, White gave WALB details of the settlement the center reached with the state that allowed the center to make adjustments to the facility in lieu of paying that penalty.
White said the center installed two high definition cameras in each classroom between late December 2017 and early January 2018, shortly after the investigation began.
Parents now have access to those feeds at any time during the day to see what’s going on at the center, according to White.
White explained that because the cost to buy and install the cameras exceeded the fine, the state waived the penalty, considering it “paid.”
White also released a statement to WALB regarding both the cameras that were installed and continued staff training.
“Our first priority is keeping the kids safe. Installing two cameras in every room not on assisted in ensuring that the safety of all children was done, but it also required staff to observe state rules and regulations more closely. With our camera systems, all guardians can access live video at any time right at their fingertips. In addition to the cameras, on-going training are being conducted with all staff from Bright from the Start. The training reinforced techniques and policies.” - Yasmine White, Director of Byne CDC
White also said that the video from the initial investigation, that the state says shows a teacher improperly disciplining children, was shown to current staff members as a part of precautionary training.
The teacher involved was fired just a few days after the investigation began, according to Bright from the Start.
The original complaint that sparked the investigation appeared to be filed in November 2017, and Bright from the Start said the violations continued in November and December of that year.
Bright from the Start also originally said it believed the facility had not corrected and maintained compliance, sparking the fines.
The packet WALB received also detailed results of the investigation.
That investigation found evidence of multiple incidents involving one staff member, including one 28-minute section of video where, according to Bright from the Start, staff “redirected several children’s behavior by handling children roughly" in November 2017.
Below is an excerpt from the letter sent to Byne CDC by Bright from the Start:
According to notes on the investigation, only one staff member was involved in the incidents caught on video.
The investigation included staff interviews, staff written statements, children’s interviews, video surveillance and parent interviews.
Bright from the Start also said that it does have video connected to this case. However, it cannot redact it without using an outside party, so for now, it will not release the footage to WALB.