Families are scrambling tonight to find new childcare options after Fox Learning Center in Sapulpa closed this week without a moment's notice.
"My frustration is toward the co-owner who did this out of the blue toward the children and the parents and the staff because no longer do we have childcare. They don't have jobs,” said AnnaMarie Guinn, Parent.
This leaves former employees without a job or paycheck just months after it opened.
News On 6's Ashlyn Brothers spoke over the phone with a co-owner of the business, Mrs. B, who said she's completely blindsided by what happened Tuesday. She said she was shocked to learn her partner had changed the locks on their property.
Several Sapulpa families are frazzled after they say a part-owner of Fox Learning Center closed suddenly in the middle of the workday. Guinn's two-year-old loved the center.
"Now that that's all stripped away from her, it's kind of scary trying to find a new place for her,” said Guinn.
Keli DeMoss was the director of the center. She said she witnessed her boss shouting homophobic slurs at a Pre-k teacher Tuesday afternoon and ordering him to leave the property.
DeMoss said her boss then called police, hired a locksmith to change the locks and told the employees to start calling parents, because the business was closing then.
"I'm at work for eight hours a day Monday through Friday, and now I had to redo my whole schedule in order to try and find childcare for her,” said Guinn.
Mrs. B is the other owner of the Fox Learning Center and said she's just as shocked as everyone else.
She said her partner has been draining the business account and transferring funds into a personal account. She said her partner mentioned financial issues.
Former employee Aaliyah Kluding worked for the center until May. She said she had to threaten a lawsuit to receive her final paycheck.
"I just pray that God will allow all of these families and all of the staff to have some peace and some comfort and some sort of closure,” said Kluding.
News On 6 called the partner this afternoon who referred us to her attorney. News On 6 has not yet heard back from the attorney.
Mrs. B is hoping to be able to own the business outright.
News On 6 received statements from several Fox Learning Center employees that you can read below.
Statement from Mrs. B, part owner:
"In 5/28/21 I signed a 50/50 deal with [partner] as she was struggling to keep the doors open after 45 days of being open. We came up with a contract for a 50/50 split, not only on the business, but for me to also purchase the property for my real estate business and was legally notarized by the state. The contract began on 6/1/21 and that was the last time [my partner] had come to the facility pertaining to business. During the last three weeks, I noticed our business account was wiped clean of all the funds for her personal use and transferred into her personal account.
Due to the toxic environment she had created, locks being changed and her telling the licensing worker and police that we were closed, we had to close the doors immediately, leaving parents hopeless without childcare, staff jobless, and a traumatizing event for the children as they ask what’s going on? [My partner] does not know any of our children or parents. When she left in May, only 12 children were enrolled. Now we have grown so much and turned into a family. This was one of the most horrific days of my life. I’ve been sick to my stomach daily. To experience that type of pain and to see tears on the parents, staff, and children’s face was something I never want to experience or want anyone else to experience. We were all completely blindsided by a business owner who just wanted money and not to put funds into the children and staff. We’ve had past employees come out during this time and tell us what it was like while being employed at Fox Learning Center prior to the change. [My partner] came and caused chaos and left soon after and we we’re stuck behind trying to comfort everyone. My goal is to purchase the property and bless the director with the one thing she’s always wanted and that’s her own business. Legally I still have rights to the property and will do everything in my power to fight until the end. It’s only right to get our babies back and provide a loving childcare environment as they deserve."
From the Director of Fox Learning Center, Keli DeMoss:
“All of my staff is having to find new jobs and over 50 children having to start at different childcare centers.”
Kimberly Brown, employee:
“I could not sleep Tuesday night, I'm almost 60 years old and the stress of this and anxiety I have over all of [part-owner's] actions is not good for me, or anyone else for that matter! I am stressed out she has all of our addresses and I am in fear she may try to show up somewhere.”
Cody Whinery, employee:
“I started August 9, 2021. I was interviewed and hired by Keli DeMoss. During the time which there was no mention of working for an [part-owner]. I met Mrs. B countless of times when she would come up to help. She would stay in the classroom with me and help out as much as possible with the kids. She has always been so nice and welcoming.
On Tuesday October 12th a locksmith came and was trying to change the locks. When [part-owner] showed up I was in the process of cleaning the classroom toys. I have never met this lady. I was not going to leave my kids in the classroom with her or by themselves. I was also under the assumption that she was not licensed to be with kids. She then opened the door and came closer, telling me I’ve been misled and needed to leave her property now. I felt like I was having a panic attack. Before I could start recording, I was told to go ahead and leave by Mrs. Keli. I said okay, but was still hesitant about leaving my kids. I walked out and heard her called me a [homophobic slur]. I stopped in shock almost to the door. I’ve never been called a name like that in my years of teaching.”
Aaliyah Kluding, former employee:
“I began working with [part-owner] mid-March. I was helping her clean up and finalize details of Fox Learning Center to help her get it open. I was doing this without pay. I was officially on her payroll as of 4/5/21 when the facility opened. [Part-owner] also came in, always complaining about money and being behind on her mortgage for the daycare.
May 5th 2021, [part-owner] terminated me. She couldn’t pay me the amount she agreed to pay me when we met. [Part-owner] also refused to pay me, when I told her that according to Department of Labor she only had until the 10th for me to receive my check, she sent my check via certified mail.
I do believe [part-owner] should endure some sort of repercussions for her actions. She has caused a lot of problems for myself, other staff, families of the facility and DHS.”