A Tallahassee preschool employee was arrested Monday and charged with aggravated negligent manslaughter in connection with the death of an infant.
Barbara J. Knight, 55, was caring for 5-month-old Peyton Joshua at the Kids Club Preschool Inc., 236 Ross Road, on Sept. 17, Leon County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. James McQuaig said. That same day Peyton was discovered “cold and unresponsive” by deputies, according to an investigation conducted by Department of Children and Families, the State Attorney’s Office and LCSO.
McQuaig said one of the preschool workers called 911 saying the baby was unresponsive. Preschool workers, deputies and paramedics attempted to revive Peyton. Autopsy results showed he died from blunt force trauma, an LCSO news release said.
Operations Administrator Traci Leavine with the Department of Children and Families said Knight was put on “administrative leave” since the day of the incident. Leavine did not know if that was leave with or without pay. When asked if there were any other red flags about the center before the incident, Leavine said, “We’ve not had any concerns since the new owners took over in 2007. The current owners have been very cooperative with the Department of Children and Families.”
In inspections dating back to March 11, 2009, found on the DCF website, the school had been cited for being non-compliant in areas including: employees needing up-to-date CPR documentation, covers being removed from an electrical outlet, insufficient staff-to-children ratios, cleaning supplies being inaccessible to children in one bathroom and fingerprint cards for staff not on file. Those issues were corrected either at the time of inspection or in re-inspections.
Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Region rated the preschool a “3” on a scale of 1 to 5. A rating of three is needed to be in compliance with the ELC’s standards. ELC is a quasi-public nonprofit agency created by the Florida Legislature that provides leadership and advocacy to promote quality child care.
ELC’s CEO Lauren Faison said, “(A 3) demonstrates compliance with their contract, but not exceeding the standards.”Faison added that the ELC looks for whether the preschool has teachers who have undergone a background check, a working phone line and implemented curriculum.
Kids Club owner Chesha James wrote in an e-mail, “At the advice of our attorney, we have no comment at this time.”
However, three women coming to and from the preschool Monday said that they were unaware of Peyton’s death and subsequent investigation. Peyton’s parents, William and Ferres Joshua, declined comment Monday night.Knight is being held at the Leon County Jail, according to county records. She has no prior offenses, according to the Leon County court database.