Our network

State moves to shut down Bright Achievers Pre-K Center | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

State moves to shut down Bright Achievers Pre-K Center

COBB COUNTY, Ga. – The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning has revoked the license of a Cobb County daycare center where a 2-year-old girl was left in a hot van.

Bright Achievers Pre-K Center now has 10 days to appeal the revocation. If it decides to appeal, it must remain closed during the process.

Administrative Law Judge Kimberly W. Schroer announced last month the decision to temporarily shut down Bright Achievers Pre-K Center, which is located in Austell, while the state decided whether to revoke or limit its license.

Dr. Melinda Hamilton, the daycare's owner, fought in court to keep her business open after a young girl was allegedly left in a hot van for more than five hours.

Police arrested Hamilton and five other workers. Hamilton and the others are accused of trying to cover up an incident where Zaryaha Russell was left in extreme heat in the back of a daycare vehicle.

The arrest warrant says Hamilton did not call 911 or seek medical treatment for Zaryaha, and told the girl's mother the child was only in the van for 15 minutes.

Police say Hamilton coerced employees to go along with the story and destroy video from daycare surveillance cameras.

In a hearing, the state called relatives of the child and a detective to the stand.

Russell's mother, Quantina Russell, said that Hamilton told her that she would fire people, and offered her $1,000 in exchange for not calling police. Michael Weinstein, Russell's attorney, said they plan to sue to the daycare.

Hamilton's attorney, Bob Rubin, said that his client was oblivious to the alleged cover-up. Rubin said he has evidence that points the finger at the daycare's director, Robin Horton.

"Three witnesses, who are employees of Bright Achievers, who are going to testify that they were directed to lie by Robin Horton, that Dr. Hamilton never told them to lie," Rubin said.

Hamilton pleaded the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer questions about what happened that day.

DECAL issued a statement about its decision to shut down the daycare:

Following an extensive investigation, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) today delivered a notification of revocation for the license of Bright Achievers Pre-K Center located at 2773 Jefferson Street in Austell, Georgia, 30168. DECAL found serious rule violations at the center. The program has 10 days in which to appeal the revocation. If the program appeals, it must remain closed during the appeal process. Parents impacted by this situation can connect with child care resources at www.allgakids.org or by calling the toll-free number 1-877-ALL-GA-KIDS. Parents will be assisted in locating quality child care options. DECAL provides this free service to parents. At DECAL, our top priority is the health and safety of our state's young learners.


Related Links:

5 more daycare workers charged in leaving child in van

Second daycare worker arrested after child left in hot van

Cobb daycare appeals state's emergency closure order

Daycare owner charged with leaving child in van