Smithville daycare under investigation in light of claims that children were mistreated

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SMITHVILLE, Mo. -- Some metro daycare parents are claiming that their children were physically punished, even though workers at the Landmark Christian Daycare did not have permission to do so.

Several parents have pulled their children out for what they call mistreatment, and two daycare workers have quit over the handling of the situation. This is a sticky situation, because police say what happened is not a crime, but to parents and staff it is a serious situation.

There is not much official history of Landmark Christian Daycare, because it is affiliated with a church and, therefore, a license-exempt program.

However, the Children’s Division has been there for two days investigating the claims of parents and staff.

“I won’t even call another daycare because right now I don’t have that trust with anyplace," said Jessica Wilson.

She says her 4-year-old son was spanked by a daycare worker on Thursday after pulled down his pants in front of other children.

"If they ever got to a point where they were that upset I would have wanted a phone call," Wilson said.

Not only did she not get a phone call Thursday, she never heard from anyone at the daycare, rather, finding out about the incident from another parent two days later.

When asked about the situation, Eddie Vigil, pastor at Landmark Baptist Church said, “We wanted to go ahead and obtain the facts before we launch into an actions.”

Vigil also sits on the board of the daycare. He admits they did not have permission to spank Wilson’s son, and characterizes the spanking a small tap.

"It wasn’t a hard spanking, it wasn't a beating, there wasn’t a child that was harmed, but it was one of those situations where maybe someone maybe crossed that line," he said.

“She spanked him twice and then she went over and spanked another child,” former employee Mallory Goad said.

“And you saw this?” asked FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien.

“Yes,” Goad replied.

“Did you think that it was necessary or appropriate?” O’Brien asked.

“No,” said Goad.

She worked at Landmark for six years, but quit after the incident on Thursday. She said she saw the worker spank two children and feels it was unnecessary and inappropriate.

“I feel like a lot of blame was being put in other places and they were trying to cover their own rear ends about this situation," said Goad.

O'Brien then asked Pastor Vigil if the investigation was still ongoing, despite an admission of spankings without permission.

“That is correct, because sometimes there is a lot of context and history that should also be taken into consideration whenever we are making decision regarding employment and regarding next steps,” he said.

That history, some say, could be the fact that the worker who spanked the children is a relative of the day care’s director.

In the Landmark employee handbook, it clearly states that striking a child requires immediate discharge, but that has not happened in this case.

Pastor Vigil says they look at this as an opportunity to make Landmark a better place for children to come, and parents should have confidence their children are well taken care of.

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