Montessori Daycare Centre Closes Amid Controversy

The owner of the Cold Lake daycare centre that abruptly shut their doors earlier this week is saying the Canadian Revenue Agency froze her account, and that’s why she closed the daycare.

Owner of the Cold Lake Montessori Daycare Centre and School, Kimberly Clarke, said she wasn’t going to be able to pay her staff and therefore had to shut down the facility.

“I couldn’t have the staff work one more day in that facility knowing there was a possibility that I couldn’t pay them for the next seven days if they worked,” said Clarke. “That’s why I closed it unexpectedly. It was for the staff.”

On Tuesday, the Montessori Daycare shut down with only a few hours notice given to staff and parents late the night before. The next morning many of the parents had not read the email telling them the Montessori was closing, and were left outside the building with their kids in tow. There were 41 children enrolled this month.

“My husband and I were pretty upset on the way it was handled. We thought it was really unprofessional,” said a parent of a child who goes to the Montessori.

The CRA froze her accounts last Friday stemming from her filing for personal bankruptcy in June 2017. She speculates it has to do with source deductions from early 2017, but is unsure of the true cause because she has not heard from a representative as on June 19.

“CRA then froze my account even though I wasn’t the director of the corporation. I was trying to get a hold of them on Monday, and on the same day I had a medical appointment in Edmonton. I couldn’t get a hold of anybody and I had to make the decision knowing that I knew this that the account was frozen,” said Clarke.

Despite the letter to parents implying that no refunds would be given for childcare fees for July and advanced payments for August, Clarke says she’ll find a way to pay parents back the money who paid for next month.

“I think right now as it stands there where two families in total who were affected by the August fees…and there’s a possibility since it’s minimum families that they will receive reimbursement for those fees,” said Clarke.

Immediately after the closure, online rumours began swirling that Clarke’s business was “fishy” and that she was running away with the money. That is not true she explains, as multiple families still hadn’t paid fees for July.

“I’m not trying to run away with people’s money. No one opens a business to see it shut,” said Clarke.

“I cared so much about this building and the kids in it and this program, that I did everything possible to keep this place going, so I wouldn’t have to close it. I could keep it open for them and the staff members. Even though I wasn’t making any money, I was basically a volunteer for four years.”

The drama does not end there.

On Tuesday, Clarke and her staff were meeting to arrange a time for parents to pickup their child’s belongings when an angry parent tried to enter the daycare during a staff meeting. She says she feared for her safety, and would not allow the parent to come inside.

An employee went to give the parent their child’s belongings and opened the door which Clarke told her not to do. Clarke phoned the police – but she was the one arrested.

During her arrest, she started to have an health episode, and was taken to the hospital. She returned to the police station the next day and was then arrested for assault.

“I never laid my hands on anybody,” said Clarke.

Since opening the Montessori Daycare Centre in 2014, Clarke has been plagued with health issues. She says these health issues contributed to some of the challenges she had with her daycare centre.

Seventeen full time kids were enrolled at the Montessori for September, which has a licensing capacity of 60 kids. If enrollment did not improve, Clarke says she would’ve closed the Montessori at the end of August anyway, and given a notice at the beginning of the month.

For now, the parents and staff are rallying to find a place for kids to go to daycare.

A gofundme page has been sent up for the Montessori staff and over $1000 has been donated.