Daycare that left child in van also cited in September

The Gwinnett County daycare that allegedly left a child on a bus for 90 minutes was cited for transportation problems in September, according to records obtained Thursday.

Prodigy Point on Centerville Highway, near Snellville, won’t be allowed to transport children on buses for a year and must pay a $5,500 fine after its most recent violation, according to the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning

“We believe that one child left on a van is too many children,” Keith Bostick, deputy commissioner for DECAL, told Channel 2 Action News. “We want to send a strong message that this will not be tolerated and Georgia’s children need to be safe.”

The state agency handed down the punishment after a 6-year-old was left on a bus for 90 minutes when she fell asleep on the trip from her elementary school to the daycare center on Feb. 7, according to Ulanda Whitaker, the child’s mother. Another parent spotted the child on the bus and alerted daycare staff. The child was not injured.

Online records show the same daycare center was cited in September for not following state requirements regarding transporting students, including proper documentation of trips, according to the DECAL findings report.

“There was no documentation to show that the checklist for field trip and routine transportation was given to the director as required for the months of August and September,” the report states.

Additionally, the center did not document whether a second check of the bus was completed on an August field trip — rules the state has in place so that children are not left on the bus.

“We believe that the paperwork is an indication of the actual practice around the safety of transporting children and checking them on and off,” Kristie Lewis, child care services director for DECAL, told Channel 2.

The center was fined $500 at the time of the September findings, DECAL officials said.

No criminal charges have been filed against the center, Gwinnett County police told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday.

A week after the 6-year-old was left on the bus in February, the girl’s mother reported the incident to Gwinnett police, but no charges are expected, Cpl. Ed Ritter said.

“We don’t see criminal intent in this specific instance,” Ritter said Thursday afternoon.

More information regarding state child care regulations and reports on licensed centers are available on the DECAL website.

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