A family with working parents sent their two children to what they thought was a prestigious Montessori school in their area. They researched the school and heard positive reviews from other parents.
However, one cold, April afternoon, their 11-month-old son was left outside and alone on the school playground for about two hours. That day, temperatures were ranging from 39-41 degrees with mist and high humidity. The dangers to a child being left alone in that situation are endless. The child could’ve hurt himself, he could’ve wandered into a construction zone, or he could’ve been kidnapped. Nobody was watching him, and none of his caregivers even knew that he was outside.
This child was found only when his mother came to the school to pick up her children. When she came in, she walked around the facility, looking for her child. A daycare employee eventually found her child and brought him in through the back, trying to hide and cover up what they had done wrong. The child, who wasn’t even a year old, was crying, had a dirty diaper, and was not given his medication for his asthma. This was neglectful behavior on the daycare's part, and it should never happen to any child.
Two days after the incident, the young boy was diagnosed with bronchitis. For weeks and months after this, he suffered from anxiety and severe separation anxiety. He cried often and would struggle to be away from his parents. His asthma worsened, and he had to get multiple treatments to help relieve the symptoms.
What Went Wrong?
The Texas administrative code specifically states that “a caregiver must demonstrate competency, good judgment, and self-control in the presence of children and when performing assigned responsibilities,” and “ensure that no child is abused, neglected, or exploited while in the care of the center.” Childcare centers must keep track of the children in their care at all times. If a child does wander away from the caretakers, they need to make a report and notify the parent as well as the state-licensing department.
In this case, these standards were not upheld. Everything that happened that April day broke the regulations that the state specifically put in place to prevent harm to children.
How the Button Law Firm Helped
The parents of this child contacted us shortly after the incident. They were upset and frustrated with how the daycare had behaved and wanted something done about it.
When we reviewed all the information and findings from investigations done about this incident, we wanted to make sure this never happened to another child in their care again. Allowing a baby to be outside, alone, and in cold temperatures was simply unacceptable.
After the incident, we found out that the school violated a number of rules, in addition to neglecting this child. There were two caregivers responsible for the class that this young child was in. One of them was on her third day of work at this facility (still in the training process.) The other, more senior, caregiver was supposed to walk around the playground to confirm none of the children were still there. She decided not to check that day.
In addition to physical injuries that required emergency care and doctors’ visits, the young child sustained a great deal of psychological and emotional damage as well. As mentioned previously, the child suffered from anxiety and severe separation anxiety for months after this happened. His parents had to take unexpected time off of work to tend to his ailments.
This family went through so much pain—all because their son’s caregivers didn’t do their jobs. The school didn’t implement the correct systems to ensure this wouldn’t happen to their child.
We represented this family in a lawsuit against the school for all the damages caused to this child and his family. We found that the childcare facility violated more than three of the standards put in place by the state, and we presented this information to the school—they owed compensation to our clients for their negligent behavior and lack of preparedness.
Our firm sent them details of how they were in violation of the rules. We told them what our clients required as their settlement; however, their lawyers tried to argue with us, attempting to downplay the seriousness of the situation.
When we saw this behavior, we let them know we were prepared to take this to trial to fight for this family. We reminded them that there was more than enough evidence to show how the childcare facility was not up to standards put out by the state.
In the end, we settled this case on behalf of the affected family for an amount that would give the young boy and his family the tools he needed to recover from this devastating incident. We had the expertise to understand what the daycare could've prevented and how the daycare should compensate our clients for the mistakes made by their staff.
Although the child needed physical attention as well as psychological and emotional care, he was able to improve his overall health. His settlement was imperative in getting him the proper care that he needed so that he would go on to have a normal, well-adjusted childhood. At this stage in a young person’s life, one instance of being left alone can cause years of emotional distress and trauma—this toddler felt scared and abandoned at that moment, leading to months and even years of anxiety.
Problems like these arise quite often. We’ve found that private daycares and schools tend to cut corners in an attempt to save money. We are determined to put a stop to neglectful behavior in daycare facilities across Texas and across the country.
If you or someone you know has a child who was neglected or abused at a daycare or school, please contact us. Our team fights on behalf of families to ensure they are getting the justice they deserve, and we're always holding these facilities accountable. Call our team at (214) 669-4409 or email us at [email protected].