ROSWELL, Ga, — The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning has opened an investigation into a picture that appeared to show white children being fed lunch before their Black classmates at a metro Atlanta day care.
Channel 2′s Audrey Washington was at the Kids ‘R’ Kids day care in Roswell, where soon after the picture went viral, the location shut down. Day care officials said the food was passed out according to dietary restrictions, but the fallout has been swift.
The sign is already covered up and the children have been moved to other facilities or left without a place to go.
Washington talked to several parents in a group interview Saturday.
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“When I first saw it, I was very upset,” Diona Howard said.
“It was sickening. When I saw, it was just disappointing,” Adryan McCauley said. “It’s disheartening. You think your kids are safe.”
The parents say staff at the Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy purposefully fed their children, who are all Black, lunch after the white children.
McCauley said one of his family members noticed the scene on the day care’s video livestream and snapped a picture. McCauley then posted that picture to Instagram.
“I felt like light needed to be exposed on this situation,” McCauley said.
“I’m looking at the picture, like, ‘That’s my daughter!’” Tony Murrell said. “I was livid. I was very much displeased.”
The attorney representing the parents, Mawuli Davis, thinks that what the children experienced was damaging. Davis has already met with a child psychologist about the incident.
“At this age, the idea of preference is already in play. So out of that, children begin to question their own value, even at this young age,” Davis said. “They went from table to table serving the white children and not serving the Black children. That’s what the picture shows.”
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Washington reached out to the president of Kids ‘R’ Kids International. In a statement, he said, in part that the interactions captured on video were disturbing and “…not in accordance with the inclusive culture that we promote at Kids ‘R’ Kids amongst our families, their children or our staff. After further review and much consideration of the photo/video in question, our company has decided to terminate that franchisee’s Kids ‘R’ Kids contract and branding, effective immediately, leaving them to operate independently.”
“We apologize to the family, the community and all of those impacted by this situation and will use this as a learning tool to remind our Kids ‘R’ Kids staff on the importance of diversity and inclusivity,” he added.
All of the parents pulled their children out of the day care immediately.
Davis said the investigation is just starting.
“We’re going to continue to investigate and see if there is a pattern at this particular day care, throughout Georgia or throughout the country,” Davis said.
Channel 2 Action News does not have the full video, only the screengrab. So far, requests for that video have gone unanswered.
Washington spoke to the owner Monday, who said she has retained a lawyer and couldn’t comment further.
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