I-TEAM INVESTIGATION: How was a daycare employee accused of 'evil' acts able to get another daycare job?

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock/NBC at 7

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C (WRDW/WAGT) -- You may remember video showing a North Augusta daycare worker being "physically aggressive" with kids.

The daycare worker was fired from the daycare, but when police arrested her days later, she was already working at another daycare center down the road.

Video showed Wendi Nelson yanking, pulling, and stepping on the children under her care.

Dana Neal is one of several parents outraged. Each one upset after watching how Nelson treated their child.

"To find out somebody I have known for a long time and trusted would do that to my kid is heartbreaking," Neal said.

Tina Camp, the director at True Foundations Learning Center reported Nelson to police on March 4.

"I had to go back and do it in slow motion and really look at it, and then I went wow did she just kick that baby," Camp said.

An employee at True Foundations told police a report had been forwarded to the Department of Social Services same day. The owner of True Foundations sent a letter showing when she sent the complaint to the Department of Social Services.

Four days later, DSS visited True Foundations and issued a citation for Nelson's "verbally aggressive and physically aggressive" discipline.
Police arrested Nelson on the same day DSS did their visit. But, when they found her, she was already working at a second daycare facility, less than a mile away from True Foundations.

"Leaving the building, as she was being escorted out the same exact hour we discovered that. She made a bold statement that she was going to ruin me on social media and that she was going to be working that very next day. She said I will have another job today and we found out that she did," said Camp.

The I-Team found it's DSS policy for daycares to check with DSS before hiring someone from another facility for a transfer of background information. As for pending investigations, the policy also says because of confidentiality laws, they can not tell another daycare if a caregiver is suspected or being investigated for a complaint made against them.

Chapter 14: administrative policies and procedures -- due to confidentiality laws, no information regarding pending status of employee may be discussed with director/owner/staff of facility

"She should never be allowed to work in a daycare center again. She should never get to be alone with any child ever," said Neal.

We checked the South Carolina Child Care System, a website that parents can check to see the history of violations and complaints against any daycare in the state. We found both facilities involved got complaints following Nelson's arrest.

True Foundations for disciplinary action on March 8 and Family Affair for an "unqualified caregiver" and "a failure to report incident to DSS on March 13.

DSS spokeswoman, Marilyn Matheus, says all the complaints are still under investigation. Meanwhile, True Foundations director is still surprised by what was captured on her daycare's cameras.

"That was just evil behavior, inflicting pain on a helpless child period," said Camp.

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