DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The owner of a Durham day care center which shut down unexpectedly is now telling her side of the story.
Jennifer Dixon says she had to shut down The Learning Garden day care immediately because she and her business partner “made a major accounting error” and it turned out “there was less money than they thought was available.”
Dixon says with “more money going out than coming in” they had to cut their losses.
On Monday evening, Dixon sent an email to parents saying The Learning Garden was going to shut down immediately.
Parents of children attending the facility had just paid their December tuition which amounted to thousands of dollars and Dixon says all that tuition money went into staff payroll and that she hasn’t been paid in two months.
Asked why she didn’t wait till the end of the week to close the facility, Dixon says “to keep it open and run payroll till the end of the week would have made the economic situation worse.”
Landlord and building owner Mark Heizer says “The tenant stopped paying in October and we started eviction proceedings in November.”
Dixon says “if the building’s owner had been willing to make rent payment options available, she would not have closed the daycare center.”
Heizer says he was surprised the rent stopped coming.
“She’s in her third 5-year lease. They’ve been in business over 10 years,” he said.
Dixon says, “If I had other recourse I would’ve done the shutdown differently.”
The landlord claims there were people interested in taking over the day care business.
“There were multiple buyers presented to her for the day care,” says Heizer.
But Dixon says, “I talked to six buyers – but nobody was interested because of the rent he was going to charge and the condition of the building.”
Two Better Business Bureau complaints say Dixon shut down her day care center in Lake Norman on Nov. 6 without any warning.
She says the Lake Norman branch of The Learning Garden was closed because she lost its administrator, it wasn’t making any money. That location was a financial drain on the Durham day care business, Dixon said.
Dixon also says all the money owed to parents who paid December tuition will be refunded once she can liquidate the assets in this building.
“We want to make this right,” she says. “I’m not a bad person, it was just bad circumstances.
“I’m sorry. I never wanted to shut the school down. It’s been a wonderful part of my life for 7 years.”