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State investigating after 3-year-old loses teeth in unexplained incident at Cleveland daycare center

Posted at 5:22 PM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 23:22:48-04

CLEVELAND — The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services will investigate a Cleveland daycare after a little girl lost four of her front teeth there on Wednesday.

Jovan Alvord Nicolino said that Kidd’s Preschool Enrichment Center called her around 6 p.m. to pick up her daughter, Ava, 3.

When she arrived, she found Ava was upset, bloody, and missing four of her front teeth.

“I feel so upset,” Nicolino said. “Ava’s very pretty, she’s very excited, outgoing. She just had a priceless smile and for them to just … her teeth are gone.”

Nicolino said the daycare’s owner, Monee Kidd-Pruitt, has failed to provide an explanation about what happened to her daughter.

“I want to know if she fell. I want to know if somebody harmed her,” said Nicolino. “I want to know what happened. That’s it."

During an on-camera interview Friday, Kidd-Pruitt told News 5 that the employee who had been caring for Ava has been fired and that she is still in the process of investigating the incident.

“We failed in that it happened,” she said. “The fact that she is in injured, that she’s missing teeth, that’s a problem. “

Kidd-Pruitt said the teeth are in milk in the center’s refrigerator and that Nicolino can pick them up any time.

“It is very upsetting to me, to the rest of my staff, we are just crushed that this has happened,” she said.

READ KIDD-PRUITT'S FULL STATEMENT HERE

5 On Your Side Investigators found the center has struggled to create a safe environment for the children in its care.

During two inspections this year, state inspectors found numerous safety-related violations. Among the issues listed in state records, the center had emergency exits blocked by classroom furniture, broken tiles, chipped and peeling paint and had failed to cover its electrical outlets.

Kidd-Pruitt said she has fixed all the violations.

“Absolutely. It’s a safe environment,” she said.

Nicolino said she will not send Ava back to the center.

A visit to a pediatric dentist Friday morning was inconclusive, but it is likely Ava will remain without any front teeth until her adult teeth grow in.

“Every child should have the perfect smile and her teeth,” said Nicolino. “Her (Ava) smile is just so… it’s still pretty, but her teeth are gone.”

“It’s very upsetting,” she said. “It really hurts my heart.”

Nicolino said Ava has struggled to understand what happened to her.

During our interview Friday morning, she picked up her mom’s phone and made a call to someone she though could help: The Tooth Fairy.

“Hello! I want my tooth back. I love you. Bye,” she said.

No word yet on when state inspectors will inspect the daycare to find out what happened to Ava’s teeth.

Jovan’s attorney, Eric Henry, said he will also work to find out what happened at the center.

In a statement, Henry wrote:

“Our children are innocent, and they need to be protected. We will find out the truth about what happened to Ava. If her injuries were caused by neglect or abuse, we will pursue those responsible with all the resources available to us under the law.”