Windsor Academy reopens amid child abuse investigation

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Published: May. 2, 2022 at 8:21 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, S.C. (WIS) – Windsor Academy Child Development Center in Lexington reopened Monday, just days after three of its employees were arrested in connection with a child abuse investigation.

On Friday, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department charged Shayna McKnight with inflicting great bodily harm upon a child.

LCSD uncovered a video, which allegedly shows McKnight folding a child’s legs under the child’s body and flipping the child into a crib while holding the child’s left leg.

According to LCSD, both Amy Grice and Jeannie Locklear, the center’s director at the time, took steps to delete that video after watching it. They are charged with obstructing justice.

All three women have been barred from returning.

Rebecca Unrue said her child has been attending Windsor Academy for about a year and half. She believes there simply was not enough time following the arrests to do a full review of company policies and ensure that this was an isolated incident.

“There’s not enough time to say for sure there wasn’t an existing company culture of secrecy and of cover-ups before,” Unrue said. “There wasn’t enough time to get a new camera system in place. There wasn’t enough time to have a town hall with parents. There wasn’t enough time to do re-training and a policy audit of all of your existing policies and procedures.”

She said her child will not be returning.

Lori Carey said she and her husband have sent their daughter to Windsor for several years and have had an “absolutely positive” experience. She said there are wonderful people who work there, and it would be unfair to judge the entire staff based on this incident.

Carey said after careful consideration, and conversations with current and former staffers and other parents, she and her husband will not be removing their daughter from Windsor.

“We know that she’s gotten good care there and she will continue to get good care there,” she said. “They’re under such heavy scrutiny that right now that’s probably the safest daycare in the state.”

Carey said she believes that there will be no problems going forward.

“I think that they’re going to probably be overly communicative, more so than they’ve been in the past,” she said.

Since Friday, Elaine Harkey, owner of Windsor Academy, has assured parents via a phone app that this will not happen again.

She told parents that they will now be allowed to go into classrooms when they want.

Harkey also asked parents if they would be interested in a new video system that would allow them to check in on their child at any time. This would come with an additional $5 a week in tuition.

Unrue says this is shocking, and the upgraded video system should be implemented without any additional cost to parents.

“I think as a business owner the decision should have been made, ‘We’re getting this new system in place, and as the owner I’m going to cover the cost of it.’ What was done instead was, ‘If you want one we’ll get it, but we’ll need to increase your weekly tuition to pay for it and that’s shocking to me.’”

In an interview Friday, Harkey said that parents should have confidence in bringing their children to the center moving forward.

“We’re rid of the person that created the problem in the first place, and all the other teachers there are so good,” she said. “And I have built safety into this building.”

WIS asked the South Carolina Department of Social Services whether they were on site Monday as Windsor Academy reopened, but a spokesperson for DSS said they cannot provide additional information because it remains an open investigation.

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