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South Pittsburg daycare owner & employee restricted amid investigation into alleged abuse

Siara Ford reached out to NewsChannel 9, saying her 2-year-old daughter Hazel had come home from ABC Children's Learning Center in South Pittsburg with bruising from a ruler. (Images: WTVC)

UPDATE (Nov. 21):

As an investigation into alleged child abuse at a local daycare continues, Department of Human Resources spokesman Sky Arnold tells us the owner and an employee have had restrictions placed on them.

Arnold says ABC Children's Learning Center owner Debbie Davis and employee Jackie Walker are currently unable to work at the daycare or any other daycare facility.

The restrictions will last until the investigation into the daycare is complete, Arnold says.

He also says all employees at the daycare have to go through training on classroom, anger management and discipline, and cognitive discipline. The training must be completed by November 29.

Last week, Sam Luther spoke with the woman who says her 2-year-old daughter came home from the daycare with bruising. See Sam's report below.

ORIGINAL STORY (Nov. 14):

A mother of a 2-year-old girl in South Pittsburg is accusing ABC Children's Learning Center of child abuse.

This happening after NewsChannel 9 was contacted by the child's mother Siara Ford, who says her child Hazel came home with bruising.

"It didn’t look normal and I know I didn’t put it there."

In a Facebook post, Ford claims that it happened during daycare hours, alleging that daycare employees used a ruler to whip her child, causing bruising. She then spoke to other daycare families about the incident.

"My niece even told me that Miss Debbie has used rulers on kids."

We spoke with Debbie Davis, the owner of the daycare on the phone today. She "categorically denies" that claim, and says she hardly knows of any rulers inside the daycare.

The Department of Human Resources and Tennessee Department of Human Resources say they are conducting a joint investigation into the matter after receiving a complaint Tuesday afternoon (see the complaint below). DHS is looking into licensing, while TDHR is looking into the people involved. DHS spokesman Sky Arnold did say the agency has "placed a safety plan on the employee at the center of these allegations, Debbie Davis, that prohibits her from working at this business or any other licensed child care agency until the findings of this investigation are determined by both DHS and the Department of Children’s Services."

South Pittsburg Police also say they are have an ongoing investigation into the matter, but according to Chief Wayne Jordan, the department only received a report Wednesday night. South Pittsburg Police were unable to comment due to how recently the case was handed to them, and tell us it is still ongoing.

The timeline of events is something Davis feels is a red flag, and believes any bruising or marks happened after Hazel was picked up from school Friday afternoon at four. Ford on the other hand says the odd order of events is simply because of how new of an experience this is for her.

"I did everything out of order. Basically I’ve never had to deal with anything like this."

We reached out to ABC Children's Learning Center for an interview, but the daycare was not interested. They did deny that the incident happened during the daycare hours, and said that they should not be held responsible for something that happens at home or outside of the daycare. They also says they have since hired an attorney regarding this matter.

You can see a copy of the complaint below:

This is a developing story, depend on us to keep you updated as the investigation continues.

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