DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. (WDVM) — An early education center in Washington, D.C. closed down after concerns about violent crimes in the area.
The SKC Early Education Center in Penn Station sent out a notice to parents saying that they will be closing starting July 1.
After 7 years of servicing the community at Penn Station, it is with deep regret that we inform you we have made the hard decision to close this location only. In light of the recent spike in violent crimes within the shopping center, lack of support from the management company and no visible security presence, we feel that the shopping center is no longer a safe area for our families.Email from SKC Early Education
The center has three other locations in Maryland that they said will continue operations. They said that they will be reaching out to parents in the following week to discuss next steps.
Parents are upset that the daycare is taking action, when they feel nobody else is. Nicole Wellington’s daughter has been at S.K.C. for almost three years. She said, “It’s just unfortunate that that was the last resort. That we have to close for the safety of the families and the staff, and uproot (our kids) because of someone else’s actions. That’s what I’m mad about.”
Wellington is not alone in her frustration. Shayla Kimble, whose daughter has also been at S.K.C. for about three years, said, “We shouldn’t have to keep running away or moving because of that, because of crime.”
Kimble has been caught in some of the violence while picking her daughter up. She said a few months ago, there was a shootout in the parking lot as she was walking in to get her child. “It was a very scary situation. I know I was just getting out of my car and happened to duck down, and everyone in the daycare was trying to figure out what was going on.”
The owner of the daycare, Monica Campbell, told WDVM over the phone that she and her husband were worried that one of the kids might end up getting hurt. They said without support from management and no visible security, they needed to make this decision.
Wellington said it is unacceptable that county leaders, property managers and police are not taking action. She said, “Of course, all gun violence is bad, but you have people committing brazen acts of violence in a shopping center where there is clearly a daycare center with children, and you don’t care. Just a blatant disregard for life.”
When asked about hopes for the future of the shopping center, Wellington said, “Security, maybe have surveillance cameras posted up. If you know this is becoming a high crime area, have police patrol, do something. Don’t just go, ‘Oh, it’s another day in District Heights. Every place in P.G. County should be safe. Whether it’s District Heights, Bowie, Laurel, Temple Hills, Fort Washington, none of that matters. The whole county should be safe. You should feel safe anywhere you go.”
The Prince George’s County Police Department released a statement about the daycare’s concerns.
“Commanders of our Division VIII Westphalia station have recently been in communication with and will continue to communicate with the property management company to address safety concerns and offer suggestions on steps to take to improve safety there. We will also work to provide a crime prevention survey. Officers routinely patrol all shopping centers in the division and will increase those patrols. The safety of all who live and work in Prince’s George’s County is our top concern.”Prince George’s County Police Department