Former Above and Beyond Day Care employees hold a protest

Former Above and Beyond Daycare and Learning Center workers protest outside the day care.
Former Above and Beyond Daycare and Learning Center workers protest outside the day care.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On Thursday former Above and Beyond Day Care employees staged a protest outside the facility.

The protestors said they are determined to get the word out about what they call unsafe conditions inside Above and Beyond Day Care.

They hit the pavement in front of the facility holding signs which read: "Unsafe environment, unsecured TV fell on 5-year-old's head, directors left babies unattended, employee high turnover rate, inadequate education for pre-schoolers."

Irene Mclendon was hired to teach 1 and 2-year-olds in August. She said owner Johna Blair is not following Mississippi day care and pre-school guidelines.

Mclendon said, "She's often not here for one thing. She and the other director are often not here and its left in charge of her 21-year-old daughter who has very little experience in child care and education."

Mclendon turned in her two-week resignation but said Blair fired her a week later on September 3.

"We feel like there's been several complaints about this day care and we just feel like we wanted to be apart of helping the people of Biloxi know what's going on here with the children," Mclendon stated. "The inadequate care."

She added she is very concerned for the safety of the kids.

Naomi Long also said she had a bad working experience at Above and Beyond.

Long said, "I was hired as a 4-year-old teacher and its common practice here to send the teacher home and to mix all the kids ages 1 to 4 and its really difficult for me to prepare pre-school for kindergarten and teach them phonics and academics when I have toddlers in my classroom."

Long said she still remembers the first week's lunch menu.

"The first week I was here we would get meals like a sliver of lunch meat, ham and would have two sides of fruit cocktail, that come from a can. They would be served water. Another meal was serving pork about the size of my thumb with two servings of applesauce," Long said.

The former employees have filed complaints with the Mississippi State Department of Health.

"I have contacted the health department. I've gone to many different agencies and I've been directed to one person and so I've spent quite a bit of time on the phone and she's going to look into it," McLendon said.

Mississippi State Department of Health Communications Director Liz Sharlot confirmed the health department has received the complaints.

I contacted owner Johna Blair by telephone, she had no comment.

Late Thursday Sharlot said there has been an application for change of ownership of the facility.  So, the application will have to be approved and the facility will need to be re-inspected.

All the same procedures will be followed as for any new applicant wishing to open a day care. If this process is completed by the date of the hearing, October 16, 2012 then there will no longer be a need for a hearing that could revoke Above and Beyond's license.

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