Parents upset with district, daycare owner after son dropped off, left alone

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By Alice Du Pont

The parents of a 4-year-old boy who was dropped off by a school bus at a closed daycare center are upset with the center and the school district.

Bennie Mason and Tammy McWhite, parents of Bakaile Mason, said he was left standing outside the Gadsden County Day Care Services Inc., located at 911 Fourth St. in Quincy, on Aug. 28.

"They just left my son standing outside and the bus pulled off. When he went to the door, the door was locked so he stood outside until a woman who lived across the street noticed him and took him into  her home," said McWhite. Bakaile's name was inside his backpack and he was taken to Gadsden Arms Apartments and left with Mason's sister.

Meanwhile, the couple sat outside the building and waited for the center to close.               

"After a while we noticed that no other cars had pulled up," McWhite said.

When she went to the door, it was locked and McWhite panicked. A few minutes later, the aunt called to say Bakaile was with her.

"I didn't know what to think. Everything was going through my mind. You know how people kidnap children these days," the young mother said.

The daycare center, which was operated by Tamaria Thomas, closed permanently Aug. 28 when Thomas called to say she was 30 minutes away from the facility but never showed up. Inez Holt, owner of the building where the daycare is housed, said she opened the building for employees Friday morning and stayed for a short time.

Holt said it was her understanding all parents had been notified to pick up those children who were in the after school program from their schools. Bakaile is a pre-k student at Stewart Street Elementary.

McWhite and Mason said no one called them or the child's grandparents. McWhite said the center had all of their telephone numbers.

“I totally understand her agony and her anger and I expressed to her you never want anything to happen to a child," Holt said.

However, Holt said she wants to make it clear that she owns the building but she does not own the business. She has served on the board of directors as a non-voting member in the past, she added.

McWhite said she was told at the school transportation office that the driver's responsibility is only to pick the children up and drop them off. She said she thought when children were taken to after school care the bus didn't leave until the children were inside or an adult was waiting at the door.

Attempts to reach Thomas were unsuccessful.

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