State Suspends Primrose School’s License After Teacher Arrested For Sex Crime

Teacher at Primrose School of Ballantyne accused of sexually assaulting little boys

UPDATE: The N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education has suspended the operating license for the Primrose School of Ballantyne following the arrest of Joseph Starnes for the improper touching of multiple children.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued the following statement:

“The N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education is charged with oversight of the safety of child care facilities. Primrose School of Ballantyne’s failure to immediately remove a safety threat posed by their employee, along with a troubling history of noncompliance, resulted in the summary suspension of the facility’s operating license.” 


Child Care Resources, Inc., in Charlotte, North Carolina, will be available to assist families in locating other safe child care options. Parents of displaced children are encouraged to contact Child Care Resources at (704) 348-2181 for assistance.


UPDATE: Police say former Primrose School of Ballantyne teacher Joseph Starnes is facing additional charges of fondling children.  Two additional male victims, ages six and nine, came forward.  He will be charged with four additional counts of indecent liberties with a student by a teacher and two counts of indecent liberties with a child.

Parents tell WCCB that Starnes has been fired.

UPDATE: The owner of Primrose School of Ballantyne, Mary Schroeder, issued an updated statement Tuesday regarding the Starnes investigation:

“The safety and security of the children in our care is always our top priority. When an incident occurs that does not meet our standards, we report to and work hand-in-hand with state licensing to take corrective actions.

Primrose Schools has many safety and security policies, including those related to background checks. All employees hired by the Primrose School of Ballantyne undergo the criminal background check process as well as reference checks and working interviews.

We are fully cooperating with authorities as their investigation of Mr. Starnes continues. Moving forward, our focus is on connecting with our families and maintaining the comfort of daily routines for our children and staff.”


CHARLOTTE, N.C.  — A teacher at a Ballantyne day care is now accused of sexually assaulting little boys.

Monday, WCCB Charlotte uncovered more than a dozen instances where the state cited the school for child maltreatment and neglect.

Parents at Primrose School of Ballantyne were on alert after hearing CMPD arrested Joseph Starnes for allegedly sexually assaulting two boys where he taught.

“I am speechless.” I really am speechless,” said Venegas Woodard. “Because you would think, ”I’m paying this amount of money, I expect the best for my children.'”

Woodard says she used to work at Primrose and took her kids there.

CMPD says last week a parent told police their eight-year-old son said Starnes fondled him. Detectives say they then found evidence that Starnes also fondled a seven-year-old boy at the Primrose.

“To see it happen here was very disappointing, but it just shows that this can happen absolutely anywhere,” said one father, Brian Hartley.

Woodard says she told the school director Starnes was holding kindergartners suspiciously in September.

State inspectors did not confirm any wrongdoing according to a violation list online.

“We used to record it,” said Woodard. “On their Ipad, record it, took videos, and we showed it to them.”

It’s not the first accusation of child maltreatment at primrose.

Since opening in 2014, The State Division of Child Development and Early Education lists 16 violations.

Those include: Staff members slapping a one year old in the face two separate occasions,
staff member suspected of being under the influence, staff grabbing children in rough manner, speaking harshly to kids, injuring a baby’s arm while changing a diaper and unsupervised children and infants.

“After seeing everything that went on, I was out,” said Woodard.

In Starnes’ case, the owner of the school, Mary Schroeder wrote, “We are deeply troubled to see this news unfold as it has. Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of the children entrusted to our care. Mr. Starnes had an issue-free record when the North Carolina Child Development and Early Education Health and Human Services office provided a background check on him as a part of our hiring process in May of 2014, and his previous employers actually said they would hire him again. We pride ourselves on an open-door policy with parents, and in his time at our school, evaluations of Mr. Starnes have been positive. We are fully cooperating with the authorities and are awaiting the findings of their investigation.”

Parents tell us the school fired him Friday. They say the school sent e-mails to parents alerting them of the CMPD investigation on Sunday.

“I think they were just sweeping it up under the rug, and, now, these parents and these kids have to suffer,” said Woodard.

Detectives say starnes could have more victims.

The state has the school under a special provisional license which is given to a program when child maltreatment occurred.

To see the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education, click here.