Local News

Glitch Allowed Convicted Child Care Worker to Work Again

Posted January 2, 1998 12:00 a.m. EST

— A child's parents are outraged that the worker who abused their daughter was allowed to get a new job in another child care center in Raleigh. They say that's not supposed to happen, and wonder why the system didn't work.

The state's criminal background checks are supposed to keep people who may harm our children out of day care centers. In this case, however, the state eventually caught up with Maxine Dunston. She has now been fired from her second day care job, but Shannon Green is outraged that a glitch in the system exposed children to the same kind of risk her daughter faced.

One day last May, 4-year-old Melanie Green became a victim at her day care center.

The Greens removed Melanie from Pam's Day Care in Raleigh and filed charges with police. Dunston left the facility and, in September, was convicted of assault upon a juvenile. Then, the Greens learned that Dunston was working at another Raleigh day care.

In 1996, North Carolina required statewide criminal background checks for day care workers. The system would identify convictions that would alert day care centers about problem applicants.

NC Child Development Director Stephanie Fanjul says Dunston's conviction came after the new day care sent in its local criminal background check. The State Bureau of Investigation's checks are also behind.

Because the 1996 law required the state to check all existing workers, the SBI has to complete background checks on 45,000 day care workers. It has a backlog of 29,000 checks because it is understaffed for the task.

Fanjul says parents shouldn't panic, though.

So far, the state has disqualified 48 day care workers. Because the Green family notified several agencies about the glitch, the state attorney general's office worked with child development to disqualify Dunston without waiting for an SBI check.

Did the second day care have any idea that Dunston had a conviction?

The attorney general's office said the day care knew Dunston had charges pending, but hired her anyway while waiting for the state to disqualify her. That day care centercouldlegally refuse to hire her.

There is a strong demand for day care workers. Both employers and workers may be hoping the system stays slow.

WRAL was unable to reach Dunston for her views Friday.

Reporter:Yvonne Simons Photographer:Terry Cantrell

andBrian Shrader