Taking Action: Did embattled Meridianville daycare simply re-open with a new name?

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MERIDIANVILLE, Ala. – A Meridianville daycare shut its doors this summer after videos of adults interacting harshly with children surfaced, leading the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) to tell us they would investigate. Now, a new daycare center has opened in the same location, still under the same family, though the entire staff has reportedly been replaced.

The video of adults aggressively disciplining kids at the Kiddie Land childcare center in Meridianville earned a lot of attention in June of 2016. After the video emerged, the director of Kiddie Land, Brandi Tatum, surrendered her license to DHR.

Parents at the time told us they weren’t entirely shocked. We caught up with Melissa Stoltz at the center after it shut down, “My daughter would come home from school or from daycare and would say mommy they are so mean to those little kids. They whoop them and they talk, you know, they cuss them. They make them sit in high chairs all day long and she says, ‘I feel so sorry for them mommy.'”

So when a new daycare, Buttons and Bows, opened in the same location someone reached out to us to see if it was the same people.

We called and asked if it was the same business

Buttons and Bows: “No, it’s a different one.”

WHNT News 19, Unidentified: “Oh, I see, so you’re under different ownership and everything?”

Buttons and Bows: “Right.”

The answer is a little more complicated than that.

We looked up tax records, which show the building belongs to the same family. It hasn’t been sold. That made us look closer.

DHR records show Buttons and Bows does have a different director — Martha Layton. But a spokesperson for DHR told us she had been the licensee on Kiddie Land, the previous iteration of the business, from 2004-2013.

We called back and spoke with Layton. She declined to go on camera, but she did tell us it was her daughter, Brandi Tatum,  who was running the center when the issues happened. She says Tatum was on medical leave at the time of the video, and that the person who took the video was supposed to be in charge.

But perhaps most importantly, she says she hired an entirely new staff to open Buttons and Bows. She says there are no carry-overs from Kiddie Land.

We did find a number of websites with job listings for the day care, and there’s a “Now Hiring” sign out in front of the business.

Layton says she’s spent decades in the industry without issue.

DHR could not confirm nor deny if it investigated individuals for the video of Kiddie Land for privacy reasons. However, officials said anything that had come up in an investigation would have blacklisted those individuals from working in childcare.

Layton says all her new employees have been fingerprinted and checked with DHR.

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