Families allege discrimination at Calvary Child Development Center
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - "Things were going great. He called it his castle school," said Jon Dunning about the time his son first started attending the Child Development Center in south Charlotte off Pineville-Matthews Road.
Then, the Dunnings say, things changed as Lucas started to have "episodes" at the school where he would pass out, get weak, and at least once started to turn blue. The parents say staff described them as seizures, but the Dunnings say no medical diagnosis ever supported that theory.
Eventually, the family said, a battery of tests and doctors visits concluded Lucas had abdominal migraines and he was cleared for preschool. Yet, the Dunnings say the CDC director, Pat Collins, told them not to come back at least for 30 days.
"A school in a church should be lifting you up in times when you're most vulnerable," said Lucy. "We weren't asking them for anything out of ordinary," added Jon, who said he believes Lucas was discriminated against because of his medical needs.
At that point, the Dunnings said they started looking for other preschools and were openly welcomed at the Morrison YMCA in Ballantyne.
That's where the Dunnings met another family with a similar experience at the Calvary CDC.
Francisco Borjas had attended the CDC at Calvary since he was the age of two said his parents, Amaya and Luis. In his second year at the school, Francisco was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, which needed management through diet and blood sugar checks.
Luis and Amaya told WBTV they spoke to CDC director, Pat Collins, and communicated that as parents, they would prick Francisco's finger and give him insulin as needed. The Borjas's said they never asked the school to give insulin. They even bought a house close to the school so they could be on-call at a moment's notice, they said.
When Francisco started his third year at the CDC, the Borjas's said they were abruptly told not to bring Francisco back, despite having completed early registration.
"It's difficult because of after two years...it was his routine. His second home and mine," said Amaya, wiping away tears.
They, too, found welcoming arms at the Morrison YMCA. Luis said other private preschools also agreed to manage Francisco's care, but didn't have openings that fit the family's needs.
"Fortunately, we have a North Carolina law that doesn't exempt private religious institutions," said their attorney Joshua Van Kampen about the Persons with Disabilities Protection Act which says reasonable accommodations must be made. Van Kampen said the state law helps fill the gap of the federal American Disabilities Act.
"Certainly in our case, we're saying that this was incredibly reasonable. Our clients were not asking for much," he said.
The families said they want the school to change their policy and hire a school nurse. The CDC provides care for hundreds of children on campus and has been in operation the past 30 years.
Calvary attorney Mel Garofalo released a statement to WBTV.
"Calvary Church and Calvary Child Development Center ("Calvary") has learned that a lawsuit was recently filed against it and one of its employees in Mecklenburg County," the statement read. "At this time, neither Calvary nor its attorney has been provided with a copy of the complaint that was filed with the court, and as such, is not in a position at this time to respond to or comment on any allegations that may be contained in the lawsuit."
The civil action was filed Tuesday morning. A legal response will be required from Calvary and their attorney at a later date.
The Borjas and Dunning families say both boys are doing well and have had no medical issues with their conditions.
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