Mom Sues Daycare After Employees Create Fight Club For Kids
Nicole Merseal was "in complete shock" when she saw video of her preschool son brawling with another boy.
ST. LOUIS, MO — A daycare center turned into a mini–fight club after two workers organized matches for kids to beat on each other — and then egged them on.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released documents showing that in December 2016, Adventure Learning Center teachers Mickala Guliford and Tena Dailey “ran out of things to do” and needed a way to entertain the “bored” children.
They decided to strap oversized toy Hulk fists on kids’ hands and throw them into a makeshift ring to wail on each other. “It happened a lot of times,” one child later told officials.
Nicole Merseal said her 10-year-old son grew worried when it was his little four-year-old brother’s turn to fight, so he grabbed an iPad, filmed the troubling situation, and sent it to her.
The footage he captured shows a pair of boys brawling, a teacher jumping up and down, and another concerned preschooler trying to separate the two tiny fighters.
"When I got the video, I was just in complete shock. I immediately left work," Merseal told ABC News. "I also called the daycare immediately and told them to go stop the fighting."
"My son was very afraid," she noted. "He described them as his best friends. He just doesn't understand why they punched him in the face.... I don't know any parent that could watch their children go through this and not be upset."
Police interviewed staff and kids, and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office opted not to pursue charges. But both teachers were fired for arranging the disturbing playtime activity.
"I meant for the fighting with the Hulk hands to be a stress-release exercise,” Guliford told investigators, adding, “It did not last more than three or four minutes. ... No children got hurt, but it was still a bad judgment call on my part.”
In April 2017, Adventure Learning Center, which remained open after the incident came to light, completed corrective measures recommended by the city of St. Louis.
However, ”I want them to be held accountable and I don't want this to happen to any other child,” Merseal said, noting her youngest son continued to struggle even after his daycare battle ended.
"It took a long time for him to be comfortable in his new daycare and to understand that they won't make him fight,” she said. “It’s really sad that he had to go through this."
Merseal has filed a civil suit against Adventure Learning Center and is seeking damages of $25,000. "If I'm not a voice for my children," she asked, "who will be?”