Monsters or Misunderstood? Daycare operators say state shut them down for discipline that works

Warren, Michigan (WXYZ) - Right now dozens of parents are trying to find care for their kids. The state shut down their daycare for numerous violations. 

The Department of Human Services said The New Creation Thien Lap Learning Center in Warren physically disciplined children, transported more children than was safe in a van, background checks weren't performed on all employees, and had unsafe clutter.

Licensee Esther Tran and Program Director Lee Tran say when they read the Department of Human Services Order that suspended their license it made them sound like monsters, but they aren't.

Lee Tran says he has a degree in electrical engineering and decided to open up this daycare with his wife to help Vietnamese children go to college.

He kept track and says kids in his care perform above average in school despite the challenges of learning in English their second language.

Tran says the kids saw such success because when they don't focus on their school work they are disciplined.  He says he has used a ruler to guide them, not hurt them.  He says he has put tape on a chatty child's mouth during homework time. He says the tape didn't hurt the child, just reminded them to be quiet and focus.  He says this is being misinterpreted as something wrong due to cultural differences.

Tran says he did perform background checks on new employees late because he got overwhelmed by turnover, but the employees had just passed checks in order to come into the country from Vietnam.  He was confident in their background. He says the background checks have now been done.

He says a driver who transported too many children was corrected.

In the meantime dozens of parents have written the state asking them to allow the center to reopen.  One wrote, "Since we sent our son to the daycare he has improved a lot in school. He learns to listen to his parents. The best thing is he can speak and write Vietnamese. We petition that you will give Mr. and Mrs. Lee Tran the right to care for our son."


Another wrote, "My name is Hien Nguyen, mother of Houston Nguyen. I honestly say that it is very inconvenient for me and other parents if Thien Lap daycare is closed down. Thien Lap daycare is a very good place for all children especially my son."


Trang Nguyen, a parent wrote, "I'm writing this letter to ask you to please support the New Creation Learning Center.... Everyday the daycare is picking my daughter up from school, feeding her, helping her with homework and teaching her the Vietnamese culture and language. For the last 3 years she has gone there I can conveniently make a living. She has learned better and is an honor student at school."

The daycare is waiting for word on when a hearing will be scheduled to address its future. 

You can contact 7 Action News Reporter Kim Russell at

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