Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rider Tag.

Have you ever read something in the news or watched something in a scary movie and had it STICK with you?  Almost like a smudge of dirt on your brain or heart?  I have...  No matter how I try to remove it, it just stays with me... Sometimes I wonder if I'll always have that smudge.
One of my recent "smudges" occurred in December with the Connecticut elementary school shooting (you might recall when I blogged about it).  Well...
Everything I am about to share is true.  I saw all of it with my own eyes.
I chose Children of America as the facility for Munch's before/after childcare for a number of reasons:
- Convenience (hours, location, shuttle to Munch's school, etc.)
- Security (personal entry code for parents and staff linked to check-in/out process, video cameras with online access to view at any time, privacy fence in rear of building)
- Commitment to Curriculum (on-staff tutors for homework assistance, structured play, etc.)
- Meals (quality home cooked meals and snacks included in rate)
It was Monday, March 11th. I was on the phone with my friend, Jelonda (J.Lo), prepping dinner before I picked up Munch. I left the house and, as I parked at Children of America in Woodbridge (on River Ridge Blvd), J.Lo and I said our goodbyes.
As I approached the building what appeared to be a "young boy" (14 years old maybe?) stormed out of the facility yelling, "LET'S GO!!!"  Of course, I thought it was one of those attitude-y teenager moments I've seen parents experience in public places because behind him came a woman with 3 small children.
"I've been waiting a LONG m'f-ing time for this!!! A LONG TIME.  LET'S GO!!!" "he" said, removing a lanyard of keys from around "his" neck and stretching. 
I continued toward the building and, in passing, asked the other mom, "who is that?"  She responded pointing into the facility, "I think that's his brother."
In the lobby, I saw Mr. H., a tall young guy who is great with the kids and who is always very professional and fun.  I also saw other staff members standing in the lobby area.
Before I could assess who else was in the area, the "young boy" ran inside the building (how'd he get access so fast?? I have to enter a 16-digit code with 4 clicks to confirm my identity and purpose of visit) and tackled Mr. H.  I was trapped in the receiving area behind a glass wall and door.  Ms. Tiffany, the admin, yelled, "we have babies here! STOP! STOP!" She tries to break it up and another staff member jumps in the fight.  It turned into an 8-person brawl in the CoA lobby.  It was like a growing human snowball bouncing from wall to reception desk to the glass door (where I was). 

Kicking.  Punching.  Screaming. Blood. 
I dialed 9-1-1 and began to report the incident to the dispatcher.  The "young boy" ran out of the building while the other staff continued to yell at each other.  I ran around the corner to Munch's room (which also has an entrance right off of the lobby). I told her to put on her coat and noticed all of the children were by the window looking into the parking lot.
I ran to the window and saw the other staff in the parking lot fighting again!  First, I couldn't get to my daughter and now I can't get to my car?!  My fear came to reality when I saw the "young boy" looking in a car for something and get out running back into the building. 

What if there's a-DON'T THINK- ACT!

I moved into protector mode and made all of the children get on the opposite side of the room.  I closed the blinds and told the class attendant to guard the main hallway door. I then stepped into the lobby guarding the lobby door.
You don't know how you'd react in times of crisis.  My fear made me protect.
The "boy" ran in and tried to start another fight with Mr. H. With the assistance of other staff members, "he" was unsuccessful and fled the scene.  This time for good.
5 officers arrived shortly thereafter and took my statement, along with the statements of other parents.


Hubbs and I have, of course, removed Munch from the facility effective immediately.  We'll look into other facilities, however, I have added some questions to my list for the future facilities and thought I'd share with you all:
- What is your facility's crisis management plan?  How often is the staff refreshed with training of this nature?  Do you have a written copy of the plan or copy of the training?  May I see it?
I was the person who moved the children away from the window and locked the door to prevent access to the classroom.
- What are your triggers for parent communication?  How do you determine what incidents warrant parent notification?
The parents who were not there to pick-up during the time of the incident have NOT been made aware of what transpired.  I would want to know.
- What is the policy for conflict resolution as it relates to your staff?
Clearly there were issues internally that were known by management.  Why wasn't anything done to mediate this situation?
I learned later that evening, the "boy" who initiated this incident was a 30-something year old WOMAN.  While she does not work at CoA, her mother (the Deputy Director), her girlfriend, her sister and her cousin are all teachers on staff.  This started because she heard a rumor that her girlfriend had a crush on Mr. H.  Those members of staff who jumped in were all her family fighting with her.

Until further notice, we are Munch's means of transportation to and from school.
We are well-versed in the process and have received a fancy rider hang tag for our vehicles.   It isn't until LIFE HAPPENS that you learn what you're really capable of.
Wish me luck in the before/after care hunt!  Matter of fact, wish the facilities I'm interviewing luck; this experience has SMUDGED me for real!!!


  1. So so ridiculous :( I am glad you were there to protect the kids and to help things get under control because obviously the kids weren't at all the priority to the staff at this point. I hope you can find a place that is more suitable for Munch!

  2. O.M.G!!! That is crazy! I'm glad no children were harmed! The children are priority number 1. But I find it DISGUSTING that a person would do this at a daycare facility! Can't you go to Mr. H's house if you have a problem? Or better yet, can't you be an adult and use your words! I'm sorry this happened, but I'm glad it wasn't worse. How is Munch handling the situation? Good luck with finding a new place that is more suitable for her!


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