WSAZ | Charleston, West Virginia | News

WSAZ INVESTIGATES: Daycare Abruptly Shuts Down

By: Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi Email

CROSS LANES, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A daycare center that served hundreds of children throughout the Kanawha Valley abruptly closed its doors, leaving families and employees in the lurch.

Employees of PJ's Preschool and Daycare in Cross Lanes tell WSAZ.com they hadn't been paid for weeks before the shutdown.

They wouldn't go on camera but say customers arrived one morning to find the doors locked.

Dr. Joe Matusic, a pediatrician in Charleston, ran the business with his wife, Pam, who owned the daycare. He says the decision to shut down was a last-minute, difficult move after months of financial struggles.

"We kept it open as long as we could until the point where just did not have any more resources," he said.

Matusic says he and his wife were forced to close the daycare after the DHHR changed its status following a routine inspection.

"If your income was cut by two-thirds, could you function?" he said. "Could you pay your bills or pay your rent?"

After inspecting the center, DHHR workers reduced the number of children it was allowed to serve.

Matusic says that made him turn dozens of families away and lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

DHHR representatives tell WSAZ.com that upon inspection, they found "administrative practices that compromised the health and safety of children." They wouldn't elaborate on what those discoveries involved.

We asked Matusic about it. He says the problems were "minor issues" that included a broken room thermometer and a child sleeping with a blanket near his mouth.

"There were no safety concerns, and no children were ever harmed," he said. "The center has never been sued, never had a child injured, and never had any major issues whatsoever."

DHHR representatives say they allowed PJ's time to fix the issues, but the owners decided to shut it down.

Matusic says too much was required of them in too little time.

"They will delay how long it takes for you to fix matters and make it impossible to fix matters," he said.

The daycare also had locations in Hurricane and Glenville. Both of them were closed, as well.

Employees at the Hurricane location have filed a lawsuit against the daycare for unpaid wages.

Matusic would not comment on the litigation but told WSAZ.com he's sorry for having to shut down.

The West Virginia Department of Labor says they've received several complaints against PJ's Daycare and have closed three cases involving the business. They would not elaborate on the details.

WSAZ.com has filed a Freedom Of Information Act with the DHHR and the Labor Board to get copies of the complaints filed.

They have seven days to respond.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.


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