VIRGINIA

Minnieland Academy had numerous cases of mistreating children, records say

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(WJLA) - The kind of problems uncovered at a child care center in Woodbridge on Thursday were also present at other centers owned by the same company across Virginia, according to a review of Social Services documents.

At multiple locations of the Minnieland Academy in northern and central Virginia, several employees and child care workers have been fired over the past year and a half for hitting, neglecting and mistreating children, records show.

The revelations come a day after it was reported that two workers at the Minnieland Academy At The Glen in Woodbridge were fired in September after a series of incidents where children were mentally and physically abused.

Those allegations included pushing and tripping toddlers, spraying them with water hoses and verbally abusing them.

A search of the records at the Virginia Department of Social Services uncovered similar incidents that have happened at numerous other facilities since 2012, including:

June 2012: A child at the Colonial Heights location sent to the ER after suffering second degree burns when he walked barefoot outside on a hot summer day
October 2013: A staff member in Lorton throws a 21-month-old toddler to another staffer who wasn't expecting the child to be thrown, but was able to catch the child
June 2013: A South Riding staff member yelled at and pushed a child several times
November 2012: A Gainesville staff member picks up a child from a cot and dropped him onto a tile floor
June 2012: Children at a Haymarket facility are encouraged to spank each other during a game of "Spud"

Ashenta Woolen recently pulled her 4-year-old grandson from a Minnieland Academy facility in Dale City after the boy told her that they put him in the water despite being scared.

"He had a fear of water, and he would come home and say they put me in the water," Woolen said.

On a video from its website, Minnieland touts a safe environment, but two former staffers have actually served jail time for sexually abusing children. In 2009, Ryan Murray abused two 6-year-olds at a Fredericksburg center, and a year later, Siyamand Salezadeh abused a 4-year-old girl at a Centreville site.

In a statement Thursday, Minnieland officials said that they "deeply regret the incidents" at the Woodbridge facility and noted that criminal background checks on both fired employees had been performed.

Nothing was found on those background checks, officials say. They've also developed a corrective action plan for future incidents.

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