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Glitch Allowed Convicted Child Care Worker to Work Again

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4-year-old Melanie Green was hit with a wiffle ball bat by her teacher at this Raleigh day care center.  The worker, Maxine Dunston, left the center and was convicted of assaulting Melanie.
RALEIGH — A child's parents are outraged that the workerwho abused their daughter was allowed to get a new job in another childcare center in Raleigh. They say that's not supposed to happen, andwonder why the system didn't work.

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

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

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

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

NC Child Development Director Stephanie Fanjul says Dunston'sconviction cameafter the new day care sent in its local criminal background check. TheState Bureau of Investigation's checks are also behind.

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

Fanjul says parents shouldn't panic, though.

So far, the state has disqualified 48 day care workers. Because theGreen family notified several agencies about the glitch, the state attorney general's office worked with child development to disqualifyDunston 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 hadcharges pending, but hired her anyway while waiting for the state todisqualify her. That day care centercouldlegally refuse to hireher.

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

WRAL was unable to reach Dunston for her views Friday.

Reporter:Yvonne SimonsPhotographer:Terry Cantrell

andBrian Shrader

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