ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — “Blindsided” — It’s the best word to describe the feelings of Mark and Carly Archambeau when they found out they would be picking up their child from Creative Kids Academy & Preschool for the last time.
On Friday afternoon, the Archambeaus were two of hundreds of parents and guardians scurrying into the facility off West Main Street north of Elizabeth City. Some were crying, others fuming at the news that the day care center would not reopen the following week.
“We knew nothing,” Mark Archambeau said on his way to pick up his 3-year-old son from the day care Friday afternoon. “We haven’t even gotten formal notification yet, we’ve only heard through secondhand sources and its like, you got to be kidding me.”
Creative Kids’ website lists it as “an innovative and affordable concept in childcare and preschool education.” Staff members, who did not wish to be identified, said that well over 100 children are in the facility daily with more than 20 staff members.
Those same staff members told 10 On Your Side they learned Friday morning that they were out of a job by the end of the day.
“We know as much as you know,” a woman who answered the door told a 10 On Your Side reporter. “We were told this morning to start notifying parents.”
However, when asked who instructed them to do so, several employees would not give a definitive answer. They wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t the owner.
“Nobody has seen the owner in days,” an employee identified as Stephanie said.
Employees and parents identified the business owner as Elizabeth Brooks of Elizabeth City. She opened the business in May 2016, according to her LinkedIn page, following an 11-year career as an educator with Elizabeth City Pasquotank Public Schools.
Brooks’ listed phone number went straight to voicemail and nobody came to the door at her home when a 10 On Your Side reporter went seeking answers for the abrupt closure.
However, attorney Thomas Nash, who represents the building owner Ladicon Properties, LLC., says the reason is four months of unpaid rent.
Ladicon is suing Creative Kids in an effort to recoup thousands of dollars it’s owed, according to Nash. He said rent is roughly $8,000 a month, but declined to give the exact amount sought.
The lawsuit asks a judge to force Creative Kids from its current location. The current lease expired on Oct. 31.
Nash declined to provide court documents to WAVY News, but provided a case number.
“This is not something that has just happened overnight,” Nash said. “They had notice on Oct. 21… we sent letter after letter and never heard a response… unfortunately the landlord had no other options.”
The property is now listed for sale, and Nash wanted to reiterate that this is the last thing the landlord wanted to happen.
However, that does little to calm the Archambeaus.
“Pathetic — the Friday before Christmas and now you have all these families that got to find daycare and scramble to find day care, and lord forbid the poor employees. What are they going to do for their families? For the holidays, it’s ridiculous.”
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