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Over the Edge: Upscale W’burg day care loses toddler

Williamsburg: Everyone’s heading to the water! Population numbers dropped by 13 percent in central Williamsburg, with more than 25 percent of Hispanic residents moving out of the neighborhood. But between Berry Street and the East River, where all the new high-rise condos are, the population exploded by 124 percent!
Photo by Tom Callan

The city closed a Williamsburg day care center last week after teachers left a toddler alone in the park.

The kid-minders from the Northside Infant and Toddler Center inside the upscale condo complex the Edge lost track of the little boy on a field trip to nearby East River State Park last Wednesday and, when the city’s health department got wind of the of the mistake, it shuttered the tot way-station until the place gets its act together.

“We received a report of a lost child at Williamsburg Northside Preschool and, in response, have suspended their operating permit,” a city spokesman said. “We are currently working with the program on a plan of corrective action in order to lift the suspension.”

It all started when two instructors from the day care took nine children across the street to the waterfront park. The teachers played with the kids for a while and then did a final count before returning to the playpen. But the chaperones counted wrong.

They realized their mistake when they got back to the day care, but in the meantime, a parent in the park had noticed the lost boy in the care of park employees and scooped him up to return him to the center.

Upon hearing about the mix-up, the school that houses the day care immediately fired the two teachers and notified the city, according to school administrators, and the city responded by yanking the school’s permit for the infant and toddler center.

School officials say they hope that the tot lot will reopen next week, but the city has not yet said when it can reopen. In the meantime, the administrators say they want to keep the incident from happening again and, to that end, they are sending the remaining day-care staffers to the office for a primer on how to keep track of kids.

“We have apologized deeply to the parents and immediately informed the Department of Health and Hygiene of the lapse,” a school spokesman said. “We have also temporarily closed the Infant and Toddler Center to review policies, procedures and teacher training. We are determined to ensure this can never happen again.”

Williamsburg Northside also houses a preschool and an elementary school, but both are still operating.

A staff member at the Williamsburg Bright Horizons school said it is handling some of the displaced kids while Williamsburg Northside is closed.

“It’s unfortunate,” Bright Horizons staffer Tiffany Charles said about the incident. “It’s not something that just happens.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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