At time of closing, thirty two small children attended
In October of 2018, the state agency which oversees day care centers in Georgia opened an investigation into Augusta University Child Care Center.
The inquiry was in response to written allegations sent to the agency by parents of children who attended the day care.
Two months earlier these parents had been blindsided by a surprise announcement from Augusta University that it was closing the daycare on August 17th for a week due to a “rodent problem.”
According to the Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning report intake details:
“It was reported that the child care center was closed in order to correct the problem of being infested with rodents. It was reported the infestation was known for months and the problem was not addressed until August of 2018. It was stated the parent believes their child’s Health problems are related to the infestation. It was reported the child received professional medical treatment on numerous occasions during her time at the facility. The health problems broadly include respiratory infections, breathing problems, and rashes. More specifically, some of her diagnoses (REDACTED)”
As a part of the state agency investigation, internal emails between day care staff and Augusta University leaders were gathered.
The emails between Vanessa Washington-Griffin, second in command at the daycare, and Augusta University Child Care Center Director, Dr. Nancy Webb, regarding a rat problem, begin June 22.
Dr. Webb’s office is off-site in the Medical Center. The initial email to Dr. Webb:
“Hi Dr. Webb, We have a serious issue with rats in the building.” An hour later Dr. Webb replied “I’m meeting with the summer scholars individually today. When I finish I will come over.”
That was on a Friday. The following Tuesday, Washington-Griffin again emails Dr. Webb, this time including two additional Augusta University employees to the email chain, Karl Munschy and Marnie Wright.
Munschy is the Assistant Chief Auxiliary Services Officer and is a direct report to Vice President for Finance, Lee Fruitticher, and Wright works in the Auxiliary Services department as an office coordinator.
Washington-Griffin was still emailing Augusta University employees regarding the growing rodent problem, 54 days after her first documented email to Dr. Webb alerting her to the crisis.
This time she added Derek Thornton, Director of Health Sciences Campus and Thad Sands, Environmental Services Manager of the university’s Summerville Campus.
She reported on her finding droppings throughout the cabinets in the Lulaby 2 room, including five photos as documentation.
“I cleaned out all of the cabinets and mopped the floor.”
Astoundingly, two months earlier the following email was sent:
June 26th 2018
The building was treated for mice on Monday morning. I can see the glue traps in the different rooms but I don’t think that is enough. I had Angel to clean the mice feces off of the shelf where the baby stuffed animals were on Friday. I think we need a stronger method to run them out of the building before a parent come (sic) in and see one or a child get (sic) sick from putting a toy in their mouth and it has rat feces on it. I think we should close down and come in and do a major cleaning with bleach on the shelves and under the cabinets in every room. Cleaned under the kitchen counter and I found food items from 2010. What do you think?
Assistant Director AU Child Care Center
In an email dated August 24, Lee Fruitticher removed Dr. Webb from her role as Director of the Child Care Center in the Division of Auxillary Services at Augusta University.
“The reason for this action is your lack of leadership and oversight of the Child Care Center which has ultimately led to the unexpected closing of the Center. Effective immediately the portion of your salary associated with your service as the Director, which is $35,536.56 annually, will be removed resulting in a reduction to an annual salary of $125,993.16.”
In a follow-up email to Dr. Webb dated August 27, 2018, Fruitticher writes:
“as you are aware, Debra Arnold and I came to your office earlier today to deliver a letter to you discharging you from your part-time position as the Director of the Child Care Center in the Division of Auxiliary Services effective immediately. During the visit you refused to accept the letter, therefore, it is attached for your records.”
Dr. Webb’s removal appears to be called for, but as her job performance evaluations from the past five years reflect, the daycare role was just a small part of her overall job duties at the University.
Many feel the part-time position structure of the daycare director and lack of attention from her superiors to that very role in her job performance reviews reveal the University’s prioritizing of her job duties-and the daycare was at the bottom of the list.