LOUISVILLE, Ky. — According to findings detailed in state inspector reports from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Vanguard Academy has been facing abuse allegations spanning back nearly a decade.
According to one of the first state reports, filed in August of 2013, staff at the daycare “failed to report to the Cabinet within 24 hours an incident that occurred requiring outside medical treatment be administered to a child.”
It goes on to detail that an 11-month-old child's finger was smashed in a door and the child was taken to the emergency room by his parent and surgery was needed to repair the child's injured finger.
Months later, in December 2013, another inspector report found video evidence that a child had been “slung by his leg into an area outside from the circle area from which he was sitting by a staff member.”
A June 2014 report details a similar incident “staff observed [a] teacher from [a] Pre-K 1 classroom go over and smack the [a] child.”
In October of 2015, a report found the Vanguard Academy "failed to comply with programming procedures regarding discipline."
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That document details how an employee used abusive language and profanity while “speaking directly to the children.”
The same October 2015 report reveals a staff member observed two co-workers "smoking an e-cigarette while working in the classroom in the presence of children."
“Taking concerns to [the daycare] just didn't seem like a big deal, and they would brush it under the rug,” Alex Jaggers, a former employee of the Vanguard Academy, said.
Jaggers said she worked at the facility from 2018 to early 2019, adding she was fired a month after reporting a co-worker to the state for alleged abuse.
“Once you start realizing things that go on at the center, and things that are mishandled, it isn't great,” she said.
After Jaggers’ employment ended, a 2020 report reveals the daycare failed to prove it did an out-of-state sex offender check/neglected background check on two staff members before hiring them.
“It doesn't shock me, I don't think they want this negative attention. They’re supposed to be this great center. They’re in Norton Commons, so obviously they care about their reputation,” Jaggers said. “The issue becomes they care more about their reputation and money than they do of the children in the rooms.”
Nearly two weeks after a daycare worker was arrested and charged for abusing children in her care at The Vanguard Academy, parents have now filed a civil lawsuit against its director Ann Revell and employees.
The families of the infants subjected to the abuse filed the lawsuit Tuesday morning in Jefferson Circuit Court.
"All that we want as parents is for us to be able to trust where we send our kids," Ryan Russell, a plaintiff in the civil suit, said. "[The Vanguard Academy] took the first opportunity to break that trust with us."
WHAS11 asked Vanguard staff about the new allegations, Thursday. One of the daycare's directors, Madison Snyder, said at this time the business has no comment.
Snyder also said she'd forward questions to their attorney, who has yet to reach back out with comment.
The 18-page lawsuit details abuse from the childcare providers employed at the daycare center, including Rachael Flannery, who has been accused of child abuse over the course of multiple days.
Russell said his, then, seven-month-old son was abused Flannery, adding he saw video of Flannery shoving a bottle into his son's mouth, swinging him around and dropping him on the floor.
"My reaction is the same thing I've had since I first saw it, which is utter disgust and anger towards obviously, Rachael Flannery," Russell said.
Russell's attorney, Alex White, said this suit paints a history of neglect: the 18-page document contains 13 counts of alleged misconduct against 5 people, all current and former Vanguard staff.
According to the lawsuit, employees went to management with concerns of child safety and told attorneys they were ignored, told to keep quiet or even fired.
It also alleges employees caught hitting children were kept on staff. Some of the incidents described include employees slinging children by the legs, a child hit by a vacuum and smacked.
The lawsuit also says employees vaped in the classrooms, used profanity and at times, sold drugs to one another at facility.
Families also addressed lack of supervision concerns, background checks on employees, injuries not reported to parents and food withheld as a form of punishment.
Flannery was seen on video assaulting two infants and the lawsuit claims police were not called and surveillance video was also withheld from families.
"What hurts the most other than, of course, witnessing what was done to my son, what I feel the most personal betrayal about is how Vanguard handled how they brought us in," Russell said. "[They] lied to my face, and refused to show us the video from the beginning until I was able to talk with their attorney."
Russell said his other child, a two year old, came home from Vanguard with bite-marks on their arm. He says his children continue to recover and that doctors have told him to keep a close-eye on his infant.
"[My son] just turned eight months. He's just he's just a little infant, he's obviously nonverbal," Russell said. "It's clear from what I saw in the video, and what's been described to me by the criminal complaint that he obviously suffered a lot of trauma to his head and neck."
Families said The Vanguard Academy sent an email on Sept. 28 stating that Flannery was on “indefinite leave of absence.” A day later, parents said another email was sent saying an “incident occurred” at the facility.
Flannery was arrested on Sept. 30 and charged with criminal abuse. She was released after posting a $25,000 bond and placed on home incarceration.
Her case is now headed to a grand jury. She is expected to return to court the week of Nov. 7.
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