Child care center in lawsuit had previous complaints of child abuse, neglect

Sugar and Spice Child Enrichment Center, sued last week over allegations of child abuse, was the subject of a previous complaint of child abuse and neglect a month before an incident in which two day care teachers were criminally charged.

Angel Broughton and Paul Accattato, the parents of Carter Accattato, filed a lawsuit Aug. 25 in Forsyth Superior Court against former day care teacher Jacinta Gladden and Sugar and Spice, which is based in Winston-Salem but has a day care center on Union Cross Road near Kernersville.

Gladden, 32, of Old Vineyard Road is charged with negligent child abuse inflicting serious physical injury, intentional child abuse inflicting serious physical injury, assault on a child under 12 and two counts of misdemeanor child abuse. The charges stem from a June 17 incident in which police allege that Gladden slid Carter Accattato across the floor and held him against a bookshelf while telling another student to hit Carter.

Court documents said that Carter had bruises and scratches on his torso and arm as a result of the alleged assault.

Juneaice Nichole Neely, 32, of Linville Street in Walkertown also worked at Sugar and Spice and was charged with negligent child abuse inflicting serious physical injury and misdemeanor child abuse. She is accused of showing “reckless disregard” by not doing anything to prevent Gladden from physically assaulting Carter, according to indictments and arrest warrants. The two women are scheduled to appear in court Sept. 8.

According to documents from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, investigators made an unannounced visit to the day care center near Kernersville on May 5 after the agency received a complaint about child abuse and neglect. Investigator Natosha Lambeth concluded after her visit that the day care center was not complying with required staff/child ratios and noted that one teacher was supervising 20 children. She also said in her report that each “child was not attended to in a nurturing and appropriate manner, or in keeping with the child’s developmental needs.”

She also wrote that a school-age child was restrained. She said the day care center must correct the violations immediately.

Lambeth returned to the day care center June 19, two days after the alleged incident involving Gladden. The complaint involved child neglect. She noted two violations. One was that a child was “handled roughly.” Another violation she noted was discipline “delegated to another child.”

“A staff member encouraged two-year-old children to chant another child Is (sic) a baby and to kick and hit another child,” the report said.

Lambeth said that Chanthini Palmer, the president of Sugar and Spice, held a staff meeting the day of Lambeth’s visit and reviewed the day care center’s policies on discipline and restraint. Lambeth said that Palmer had scheduled training “for all staff regarding behavior intervention strategies.”

Palmer could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

It’s unclear whether the N.C. DHHS has taken any administrative action against Sugar and Spice. The day care center remains open. Alexandra Lefebvre, a spokeswoman for DHHS, said she could not comment further because investigations into the center are continuing.

The report indicated that the staff member involved in the complaint, presumably Gladden, no longer works at the day care center.

The report said that the Winston-Salem Police Department and Forsyth County Department of Social Services were investigating the incident.

Investigators visited the day care center two more times — June 29 and July 2. The June 29 visit concerned a complaint about child neglect, though the report has no details about the allegation. Lambeth indicated on the report that the Forsyth County Department of Social Services was investigating.

Another investigator, Kelly Healy, visited the day care center July 2 and reported on issues with Palmer allowing children in areas where she could not see them at all times, the center not having adequate toys for children and requirements involving the amount of television children are allowed to watch.