Theresa James, of Lowell, tells me that the owner of her 7-year-old daughter’s daycare, Luz Clarita’s Daycare, at 69 Fifth St., in Lowell, notified both parents and the agency her daycare is affiliated with that she would be on vacation this week.
James’ daughter, Ashley Reynolds, goes to the St. Louis Elementary School in Lowell, and then takes a bus operated by Acre Family Child Care to her daycare after school.
On Monday, the Acre Family Child Care bus was supposed to drop Ashley off at another daycare a block away on Fifth Street. Instead, the bus dropped her off at 69 Fifth St., and then drove away before any adults came outside to greet the little girl.
“They abandoned my child,” James told me today.
Ashley initially refused to speak with me. She’s not allowed to talk to strangers. Her mother assured her it was okay to talk to me on the phone, though.
“I was scared,” she said. “I think it was about 45 minutes I was there alone. I cried.”
After about 45 minutes, Ashley said she had to go to the bathroom so she went to the home of a boy she’s friends with next door to the daycare, and asked if that boy’s mother would let her use the bathroom.
The neighbor quickly realized the daycare was closed, and let Ashley use her telephone.
Ashley, who had memorized her mother’s number with help from the folks at Luz Clarita’s Daycare, called her mother.
James was at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, though, since her 3-year-old son had a stomach bug. She had to call Ashley’s grandmother to go pick up the girl right away.
James said that in the meantime, another Acre Family Child Care bus dropped off another boy at the daycare. The same bus later returned and picked that boy up, James said, apparently after realizing the mistake.
James called police, who took a report and plan to investigate how this happened. She also left a message with the state Department of Early Childhood Development, though she has yet to hear back from that agency.
I spoke to Luz Mejia, who owns Luz Clarita’s Daycare, after she heard about the incident while on vacation in Florida, and called both James and the newspaper. She reiterated what James had said, that she notified both parents and Acre Family Child Care that she was going on vacation. She said she too wants answers about how this happened.
James said she is not angry with the daycare, and plans to continue sending Ashley there.
Ashley doesn’t mind. She said “school is fun.”
James is furious with Acre Family Child Care, though, even after she got an apology today from Kathy Reticker, executive director of Acre Family Child Care.
The apology just didn’t cut it, and James now plans to take time off from her job to find a new means of transportation for her daughter and 3-year-old son.
She said the bus drivers are supposed to wait after dropping a child off, and not leave until they see the child make contact with an adult.
“Ashley will never go on that bus again,” James said.
I called Reticker this afternoon, and she was very polite, but she said “I’m not at liberty to comment.”
For information on how safe of a neighborhood Ashley was left in, here is a list of crimes that have been reported within a fifth of a mile of where she was left, just since March.