LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An east Jefferson County daycare is under investigation by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) over its staffing ratios, and Louisville Metro Police are conducting a death investigation.
Reports show that on Dec. 16, 2021, a 13-month-old infant was rushed to the hospital from Kayfield Academy II on Nelson Miller Parkway.
In a statement made on behalf of the child's family, attorneys Terry Goodspeed and Sam Aguiar identified the infant as Shivani Jishnu.
In the statement, the attorneys said Jishnu was found unresponsive in her classroom at Kayfield Academy II in the late afternoon on Dec. 16, 2021. According to documents obtained by WHAS11 through the CHFS, Jishnu "suffered a medical emergency of an unknown source" and was given CPR by academy staff members until emergency crews arrived.
Doctors told the family that it appeared the child was without oxygen for more than 20 minutes before she was taken to the hospital, the attorneys said.
She was placed on life support until she passed away on Jan 7, 2022.
"The family continues to mourn the loss of their daughter," the attorneys said in the release. While the family has waited for additional information on what led to the death of their daughter, the attorneys said they have "more questions than answers on these matters."
The statement said the child did not have any pre-existing medical conditions that would have led to her death.
"This sort of incident does not just happen without an underlying reason," it said.
The attorneys believe that the person who was responsible for Jishnu's care at the academy left the country in late December and has not returned. The family is asking anyone with information about this incident to come forward.
If you have information, contact Sam Aguiar at 502-888-8888.
Attorneys highlight discrepancies
In the release, the attorneys claim that the academy has released a "substantial amount of misinformation" surrounding the child's death. This information includes:
When the child was discovered: Emergency responders and doctors were told Jishnu was found unresponsive while napping. However, EMS was called more than two hours after the child care center's scheduled nap time session had ended.
The condition of the child: According to the attorney statement, Kayfield II told parents, staff members and the public that Jishnu was "recovering nicely," but she was never taken off of life support because she couldn't breathe on her own.
Video footage: The attorneys said Kayfield II has "sold itself on a promise of transparency" and has cameras present in all of the facility's rooms. However, the center said no footage was recorded or stored for the room where Jishnu was found unresponsive on Dec. 16, 2021.
They added that the academy told parents and community members that the reason for the facility's closure was due to staffing issues. In an email dated Jan. 10, given to WHAS11 by a parent whose child attends the academy, Kayfield said it had closed due to one of their staff members being late.
The email said the following:
"…So, it appears our operations are suspended this week, interestingly, the same as JCPS and many other school districts. We did prove that we were not out of ratio on Thursday (1 and 2 yrs old issue), but apparently, on Wednesday we had a teacher arrive 10 min late, so that is what actually made them suspend our school."
The attorneys are questioning the legitimacy of that claim due to the academy's documented history of issues during previous state inspections as well as the timing of the closure.
On Jan. 21, the CHFS website showed that the daycare was "suspended." A note on the door of the facility said the building was "closed until further notice" starting Jan. 10.
Susan Dunlap, the executive director for the CHFS office of public affairs confirmed that Kayfield Academy II reopened on Jan. 24 after it submitted an "acceptable plan of correction" following its suspension issued on Jan. 7. Dunlap said the investigation into the child's death was "ongoing" and the suspension was placed due to a different investigation.
The attorney statement said the family did not initially contact the media about the incident but wanted to issue a statement now "in response to the news stories and to clarify certain questions" about the investigation. No lawsuits have been filed against the facility and the attorneys said they have been retained to be points of contact for the family.
Several groups, including Louisville Metro Police, the Office of Child Care Regulation and Child Protective Services, are investigating this incident.
Attorney Jason Morgan, of Lexington, is representing Kayfield Academy II and said the facility is fully cooperating with all regulatory and law enforcement agencies.
In a statement to WHAS11 on Jan. 21, Morgan said:
"Kayfield Academy and its child care facilities have served Louisville and its surrounding communities for the last twenty-five years. It is committed to delivering excellent child care services. Kayfield Academy cannot comment on any specific investigation or student for privacy and confidentiality reasons. Kayfield Academy cooperates fully with any and all regulatory and law enforcement agencies. Kayfield Academy II confirms that it was recently closed but will re-open for business Monday, January 24, 2022."
CHFS documents show investigators went to the property on Jan. 5, 2022. The investigators wrote they found excessively loud music playing in two of the rooms.
The report states it was loud enough that people standing in close proximity couldn't hear each other. Investigators said it created the potential for staff members to be unable to hear a child who was crying or in distress.
Their inspection also found that there were multiple staff-to-child violations.
Investigators noted how in one room, there was one staff member to six infant children, exceeding the minimum staff-to-child ratio by one child.
Another staff member, they said, was the only caretaker in a room of 10 children, aged 1 to 2 years old. That exceeds the minimum staff-to-child ratio by four.
According to the cabinet's report, two staff members were the caretakers of 16, 1-year-old children, in a room. This exceeds the minimum staff-to-child ratio and the maximum group size by four.
WHAS11 News reached out to the cabinet for additional information, but they said they do not comment on open cases.