Local News

Roxboro couple says state day care law is unfair

Posted October 10, 2012 6:04 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2012 7:15 p.m. EDT

Mary O'Briant owned and operated her in-home child-care center in Roxboro, M&M Home Day Care, for 13 years before the state revoked her license and shut it down Friday.

According to a spokeswoman for North Carolina's Division of Child Development and Early Education, O'Briant failed to report that her husband, Calvin Harris, a convicted drug offender, was living in in the home.

Under North Carolina law, anyone over the age of 16 who lives on the premises of a home day care must be qualified by the state.

O'Briant married Harris in 2010. She admitted to WRAL News that she did not tell the state because she was concerned Harris' past might be an issue.

She and Harris both believe the state law is unfair.

"These children were loved and protected here," O'Briant said Wednesday.

Harris was featured in a WRAL News Documentary, Justice and Redemption," Tuesday night on drug courts and how they are changing addicts’ lives.

"I do have a record, and I do take ownership for things I've did in my past," Harris said.

After 30 years as an addict, committing dozens of crimes to support his habit and going to prison five times, Harris was offered the option of Drug Treatment Court in 2005. He graduated from the program in 2006 and has kept both himself and his criminal record clean ever since.

He and his wife even have custody of her 4-year-old grandchild.

He thought that, because he did not work for the day care and actually worked at another job while children were in his home, his criminal past would not be an issue.

"They're punishing her for my past," he said. "It hurts, because that's my wife."

Harris returned home while state inspectors made an unannounced visit on Aug. 21. As a result, he submitted to a background check and the state discovered his criminal history.

O'Briant was at home Friday when a police officer and two representatives from the state knocked on her door.

"I just don't think it's fair how they come in and put me on the spot like I was the criminal," O'Briant said.

Still, she said, she will not appeal the state's decision.