MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a place that’s paid to take care of kids, but a WCCO investigation has found its owner is accused of not taking care of her staff or paying her bills.
Busy Bees Child Care Center is supposed to be convenient for students getting their degrees at Century College in White Bear Lake. The long-time day care director says she’s owed tens of thousands of dollars.
As WCCO found, it’s a tax bill that could land the day care’s owner in the most trouble.
Terri Cross started a scrapbook 32 years ago and still she can rattle off the names of her kids as if these holidays happened just yesterday. For that reason, Cross didn’t think her time as director at Busy Bees would end the way it did.
“It really was my everything,” Cross said.
A day care inside Century College, Busy Bees would sometimes serve 20 to 30 kids a day, but it’s not run by the college. Instead, it’s owned by a woman named Nancy Johnson.
“We would provide the child care, they would give us the space to do that,” Cross said.
Things started to go south last summer when her checks from Johnson started to bounce, Cross said.
“They started piling up when I couldn’t cash them,” she said.
She’s embarrassed to admit looking back, but Cross stayed on for months believing it would get better.
By fall, Cross says the state started calling the center, looking to talk to the owner about unpaid taxes.
Between her day care and her personal income, WCCO found Johnson owes close to $75,000 in unpaid taxes. But Century College says since no money exchanges hands between the two, Johnson is in compliance with her contract with the college.
Cross resigned in December. She says she’s still owed more than $30,000. Other former employees told WCCO they are owed money, too. Cross says her plight isn’t so much about paychecks; she wants parents to know the real reason she left the kids she loved.
“That’s the hardest part — I really do think I was taken advantage of,” Cross said.
The Department of Human Services licenses Busy Bees. Inspector General Jerry Kerber confirms an investigation into the center is underway, but because the investigation is active details can’t be discussed.
Johnson denies owing Cross any money. As for her taxes, she said she’s working with the state to resolve the issue. Cross has filed a complaint in small claims court against Johnson. Her first court date is set for late June.