Mother filing lawsuit against daycare that left toddler alone locked inside, attorney says

Police report details timeline of when employees left to when 2-year-old was rescued

The attorney for the mother whose child was left locked in a daycare after the school closed says that KinderCare 'endangered the life of a child.'

PLANTATION, Fla. – The mother of a toddler left alone inside a daycare Thursday is filing a lawsuit against the company that owns the Plantation childcare center.

Meanwhile, Plantation Police have released a report of the events. The report indicates that the assistant director of the school and a teacher closed the school, locked the doors, and left at 6:20 p.m. Police said they were dispatched at 6:28 p.m. to the daycare center.

Stephanie Martinez went to pick up her 2-year-old daughter, Anastasia Brathwaite, Tuesday night and when she arrived, the Plantation KinderCare was closed, the lights were off, and staff members had left for the day.

“I started knocking. I banged on every window. I couldn’t see anything because everything was dark,” she said. “And finally, I heard her and she popped on the little window, on the little door, and I lost it,” Martinez said.

An incident report by Plantation Police said that Plantation Fire and Rescue responded to the scene and that they were able to find the child and get her out of the school at 6:51 p.m. They did not break the door but were able to pry it open, according to the report.

The report detailed the series of events recounted by Nichole Burrillo, the assistant director of the daycare.

Burrillo told police that she and Lucilena Viggiano, a teacher, were the last employees at the center and were responsible for closing.

Burrillo said Viggiano was in charge of using a tablet device to check out all of the children from the center before closing.

Both employees checked the inside of the school and locked the doors. Burillo said she and Viggiano left the school at 6:20 p.m. The report states that Martinez arrived at 6:28 p.m. to pick up her daughter. Martinez had not received a call from the school to pick up the child, according to the report.

Plantation police stated in the report that “it should be noted that the business closes at 6 p.m., however, they stay open for parents who regularly pick up their children late.”

Parents that we spoke with who were dropping off their children at the center on Friday said while it was an unfortunate incident, they have been pleased with KinderCare. “As a parent, I would be just as furious, but like I said that’s not who they are,” one parent said.

Another parent said: “They do a good job; they have raised the whole neighborhood.”

Martinez’s attorney released a statement Friday:

“We are outraged that KinderCare endangered the life of a child by not observing any safety protocols that led to a two-year-old being abandoned and locked inside a darkened facility. Making the whole situation worse was that Ms. Martinez was forced in horror to witness her child in peril and it was not until law enforcement and the fire department were called that the toddler was then extricated through extreme measures.

“The entire event could’ve been avoided if KinderCare did not abandon their responsibilities and the toddler. What adds insult to injury is that nobody at KinderCare bothered to answer the phone in this emergency situation, they failed to apologize for their bad behavior and they failed to provide anything but a bad excuse for what happened. We will be filing a lawsuit to provide justice through the court system and to ensure that nothing like this happens to another child.”

KinderCare Learning Company states it is America’s largest provider of early childhood and school-aged education and child care. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, KinderCare operates more than 1,600 early learning centers and sites.


About the Authors:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.

Roy Ramos joined the Local 10 News team in 2018. Roy is a South Florida native who grew up in Florida City. He attended Christopher Columbus High School, Homestead Senior High School and graduated from St. Thomas University.