Son's childcare worker suddenly fired - what to think/do (if anything?)
September 15, 2014 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone dealt with the sudden dismissal of a childcare worker?

I just received a blind copied email from our 8-months' old childcare center that his lead teacher, who has been with the center for 15 years, is "no longer with us effective today". I spoke to the woman on Friday, there was no indication of anything going on. The email went on to explain which staff would cover where and that the hiring process was already starting, but no other information.

I don't know what to think, I have the worst feeling in my stomach. We just moved and he just started at this center three weeks ago, which is very highly regarded. My main concern is if anything traumatic happened to or in vicinity of any of the babies. This is also an extremely small community and I'm positive we'll run into this woman somewhere.

Has a similar situation ever happened to anyone? Why would a seasoned childcare worker suddenly be fired?

And what do I say when I pick up my son today? (if anything??)
posted by wannabecounselor to Human Relations (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have any indication that she was fired? It seems just as likely to me that she quit. You don't have any suggestion or indication that anything inappropriate happening, and it's much more likely that she had some personal issue come up than something abusing happened in front of the kids and they're covering it up. You can inquire about the circumstances when you pick up your son and see what they'll tell you, but depending on what it is they may not be able to or want to tell you much and that is not necessarily an indication that anything bad happened either. This isn't a big deal.
posted by brainmouse at 10:25 AM on September 15, 2014 [9 favorites]

I would think that she was pocketing money or something, not that she was mishandling babies. I mean, there are a whole host of shady things she could be doing that are just shady business things. People get away with doing shady business things in all sorts of businesses for years. That would be my first thought. Embezzling or misusing company funds or hell, maybe she just quit and gave zero notice and the daycare is so pissed at her for leaving them in the lurch that they didn't give her a flowery exit email.

Regardless, the worker has been dismissed so it's not a problem anymore. Your baby is fine, right? Don't dwell on this, it will only drive you nuts.
posted by phunniemee at 10:27 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Obviously I can't speak to the specifics here, but I have seen sort of similar things that were just the product of pedestrian intraoffice disagreements. When that sort of thing gets mixed up with caregiving people often seem to just turn on or off, rather than go through a gradual plan.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:28 AM on September 15, 2014

I have had children in a chain childcare center for years. Staff always disappear like that unless they're moving to a different center in the chain. There's a veil of mystery - even if I know from talking to the staffer that she's moving full time into the local school system.

I wouldn't worry, but if you are, chat with other parents. Usually someone has the scoop.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:30 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

It's also possible that she gave notice and they just suck at communications. I have had preschool teachers just up and disappear without notice because it turned out their continuing ed credits had expired and they they were summarily shitcanned. Sometimes people are surprisingly terrible at communication.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:38 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Agreed that there is no reason to think she was mishandling babies…. anecdotally, my toddler's teacher was term'd one day out of nowhere, no explanation was ever given, and now that the administrator who fired her has left she is reinstated.

She could have quit, she could have pocketed money, she could have sassed the administrator, she could have falsified timecards, administrator could have had it out for her, a million other things are more likely than that she hurt your baby.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:40 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

We had a preschool teacher who vanished in the same way, found out months later that she'd been hospitalized but asked the school not to share that fact.

There are literally a hundred reasons this could have happened that don't involve danger to anyone, adult or child.
posted by anastasiav at 10:41 AM on September 15, 2014 [16 favorites]

"No longer with us effective today" is lawyer-approved language for "fired". This happened recently with the well-loved principal at a local public school, and it turned out the reason was that she was having an affair with the janitor.

If this was anything related to child abuse or neglect, you'd have to be told about. But something more pedestrian like sleeping with one of the parents would just be grounds for immediate termination, unexplained in this way.
posted by alms at 10:43 AM on September 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

I worked with special need children and anyone who was accused of anything affecting a child would have to go through a long drawn out process, and any parties who were effected would be notified. It was considered a really serious thing, even if the claim turned out to be unsubstantiated.
posted by Aranquis at 10:43 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agreed with the others, in that there are a number of things that this teacher could have done/reasons this teacher could have left, which wouldn't affect your child.

Moreover, you also now have evidence that the school itself takes its reputation really seriously and lets go people who transgress rather than trying to cover for them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 AM on September 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

I would ask the center director if the departure had anything to do with the care of your child, and if the answer is No, which it probably will be, I would accept that answer and move on. You have a right to know about issues affecting your child directly, but no right to personnel information that doesn't affect your child directly.
posted by theora55 at 10:48 AM on September 15, 2014 [16 favorites]

Has a similar situation ever happened to anyone? Why would a seasoned childcare worker suddenly be fired?

Yes, exactly that happened to us. The teacher had differing views from the school governors (who wished to give a more explicitly religious slant to the curriculum, which had until then been totally Montessori-based) and was fired with no warning to parents. We were all upset, including the children of course. The governors held a meeting to try to pacify us, but we all ended up withdrawing our children on the basis that that kind of behavior from the governors made the school relationship untrustworthy.

The teacher actually opened a new school, with support from many parents, but it took time and turmoil for that to happen. (Our child did not go to the new school because of unrelated changes.)
posted by anadem at 10:54 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

It's entirely possible that her departure was her decision but that she didn't want a big deal to be made of it. I've left jobs on excellent terms after giving plenty of notice and asking my bosses not to share my departure with anyone. Tearing the band-aid off fast is often better, especially when you're dealing with kids.

But I agree with theora55 -- ask once, and then let it go. If it were something that affected your child, the center should have notified you personally before sending out a mass email that the teacher was gone.
posted by Etrigan at 11:05 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

This happened a number of times when my daughter was in (a very large NYC) daycare. It was never due to maltreatment of children. Sometimes notice had been given but the parents were not informed, twice it was because of attempts to unionize, once it was because of mishandling funds, and once because of an argument with the daycare director. So, nthing everyone that there could be a number of reasons.
posted by gaspode at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2014

From an anonymous commenter:
I worked at a daycare. There were several firings, and deciding how to communicate information to parents was difficult. Lawyers want you to say absolutely nothing; thus, the "is no longer with us." However, when parents see that, they naturally fear the worst, and in some cases totally false rumors of sexual and physical abuse started circulating.

We tried to give reassuring information, along the lines of, "No child was in danger..." or "No child was harmed," without giving details. The problem was, of course, that generally you're not fired without doing something that isn't good for kids. Yes, it could be something like repeated absences without notice, or fighting with a coworker, or stealing money. But more commonly, it was things that are simply bad child care, like leaving a soiled diaper unchanged, things that put a child in danger, like leaving a cabinet unlocked so that a child could have gotten access to chemicals, or things that are harmful to children, such as being verbally abusive to a child - or, rarely, worse.

In most cases, the amount of information that was given depended on how directly the child was affected. The parents of a child who walked out an unlocked gate would get a lot of information, the parents of other children in the room some, and the parents of children in other classes very generic information. You need to talk to the director and ask for all information that can be shared. You may also wish to ask what their policy is on sharing information about dismissals.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:22 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

If this was anything related to child abuse or neglect, you'd have to be told about.

I'm gonna say "citation needed" on this. Daycares are regulated at the state level and exactly what disclosure is required, if any, is going to vary. I'm not aware of any direct-to-parent disclosure requirements in the care licensure for my state and county, and I've read them. There may be some in other areas of the code if law enforcement gets involved and someone is detained, independent of the daycare citations. However I suspect there's a lot of things we would classify as 'neglect' when it comes to someone caring for our kids and which could get someone fired don't rise to the level of criminal involvement.

Personally I would just ask, and I'd make judgments based on the way they answer me. I think there's plenty of perfectly innocent possible answers - disputes over salary, for example, or time off. It's very possible that the person resigned with notice and they just released them immediately. There's certainly answers where I think it's very fair for them to say they're not going to discuss much; but these are the people we trust with our little ones so compelling them to find a way to respect that person's privacy while still reassuring us isn't too much to ask.

In your shoes I'd assume a personnel matter over anything more dangerous/reckless/serious.
posted by phearlez at 12:15 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've had my kids' teachers suddenly disappear because they needed medical leave, for an injury or a sudden illness. The schools can't give out information about it. Sometimes the teachers came back, sometimes they didn't. I wouldn't fear the worse.

That said -- that's lousy communication, and you should feel free to ask what's up. These people are looking after your child. The worst that will happen is they'll say "we can't tell you that."
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:40 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

maybe she just quit and gave zero notice and the daycare is so pissed at her for leaving them in the lurch that they didn't give her a flowery exit email.

Yeah. This happens more than you'd think.
posted by corb at 2:41 PM on September 15, 2014

It really could be literally any reason. Maybe she called in sick or late too many times and they just couldn't keep supporting it. But feel free to ask, especially if you are chatty with one of the other workers. They might be able to tell you.
posted by clone boulevard at 12:06 PM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

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