State Suspends License for Ballantyne Daycare

CHARLOTTE, NC —  The state has suspended the license of  Primrose School of Ballantyne. Primrose Schools’ corporate office is terminating its franchise agreement with the owner. And a local lawmaker is calling for criminal charges for the management after a teacher was arrested for inappropriate contact with students.

“I think criminal charges should be brought for the management of this location because they put kids in danger,” says Rep. Scott Stone, who represents Mecklenburg County.

The outrage continues to build after police arrested a teacher at Primrose School of Ballantyne for fondling at least four young boys. Joseph Starnes is in the Mecklenburg County jail, but the investigation continues.

A former Primrose employee told WCCB Charlotte that she informed management in September that Starnes was holding kindergartners suspiciously. The school let him back into the classroom.

“I asked them about that, and that was denied by them,” says Christine Witte, whose children attend Primrose School of Ballantyne. “That really upset me. That’s why my kids were pulled out of the school this week.”

“They let him go back to work the next day, and care for children the next day,” says Stone. “And they should have immediately taken action. And this is a series of violations they’ve had at this particular facility. So I think they need to be held accountable.”

Stone has asked the Mecklenburg County District Attorney to investigate the school’s management. State records show the school has 16 violations since 2014. They issued a notice Wednesday suspending the school’s license.

The Department of Health and Human Services sent this letter to Mary Schroeder. She is the franchisee for this Primrose School in Ballantyne. The letter says she has to let all parents with students at this facility know that they are closing by the end of business today. And that leaves many families looking for a place for their kids.

Schroeder sent a letter to parents, saying her license had been suspended for at least 30 days, and referencing an appeal process. We reached out to the school for comment but got no reply.

Primrose Schools’ corporate office sent WCCB this statement saying:

“We take these allegations very seriously. We are terminating the franchise agreement with this franchisee.”

Now everyone involved faces an uncertain future.

“It’s really unfortunate that the man that did this really just ruined it for everybody,” says Witte. “And now the entire school, and the families, and the directors and the employees of the school are suffering.”

Primrose School of Ballantyne is licensed to serve up to 186 children up to age 12. Starnes is charged with fondling four boys between the ages of 6 and 9.