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Child Care Center Faces Federal Court Fight

Glen Cove couple being sued for splitting with Tutor Time franchise.

Jonathan and Beth Turman ran Tutor Time in Glen Cove for 15 years before changing their name to Kids by the Bunch in September, ending their affiliation with the national child care learning center franchise over a list of grievances.

"We were getting no support. All the products, such as curriculum, were very stale. Nothing was being updated and they charged huge royalty fees," Turman said.

The couple now faces a suit in federal court accusing them of breaching their contract.

The franchise's parent company, Learning Care Group, has changed hands several times during the Turman's nearly two decades in operaton. The current owner, Morgan Stanley, acquired the company in 2008 when its previous owners went bankrupt. Patch reached Learning Care Group but they declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

"The last five years have been horrible," said Turman, who has run a second center, Kids by the Bunch Too, in Syosset for eight years. He described the franchise's previous owners as more geared toward the company's mission of providing quality care and teaching to children.

That attitude was out as Morgan Stanley's Private Equities arm came in. Corporate decrees coming from hundreds of miles away prioritized the bottom line over education, he said. Cleaning service was cut, forcing teachers to absorb janitorial duties or risk their facilities becoming a mess. Keeping pace with ever-evolving grade school curriculums became impossible.

"Our hands were tied as to what we could explore," said Beth.

Turman said the centers' security systems had not been updated since 2001. Any improvements had to be made at the expense of something else.

"Everything had become cost-inhibitive because you had to rob Peter to pay Paul," Turman said. They joined other centers in presenting grievances to the franchise association, to no avail.

The couple decided the benefits of leaving would outweigh the backlash they expected from Tutor Time. It was a move  They split on Sep. 16, with eight years left on their contract for the Syosset location. The Glen Cove center's contract was expired, according to Turman, although both contracts were named in the franchise's suit.

Despite the legal trouble, the Turman's said they feel they made the right choice.

"They were like a noose around my neck, not just financially but creatively and intellectually," Turman said. 

Kids by the Bunch has since updated its security, instituted the Galileo curriculum for preschool and pre-kindergarten children, and plans to add more programs. The two centers once again have the flexibility necessary to address children as individuals.

"The concept of pushing a child along does not exist here," said Turman.

Business has been "soft," with the Glen Cove center at under 80 percent capacity and Syosset at barely more than half its 190-student capacity. The economy hit hard; Kids by the Bunch Too lost 20 enrollments in one day when a corporate division employing a number of local families closed. 

Yet Turman had no doubt his centers are "stronger than ever and here to stay." His teachers are that strength -- most of them have been with him for eight or more years --and Beth said she and her husband give them space to be creative in their classrooms.

"We respect what they do," Beth said.

The Turman's regard their move as one of survival -- an attempt to avoid the fate of the couple hundred Tutor Time centers that have gone under out of 1,600 or so total.

The couple won't be the only defendants in the case, though. They hold 110 counterclaims alleging the franchise owner defaulted on its own contractual obligations.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article stated the Turman's opened Tutor Time in Glen Cove 18 years ago. It was 15 years ago. They have been with the franchise for 18 years.

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Meri February 28, 2013 at 12:58 PM
I worked at the Glen Cove location in the early 2000's as a teacher for 3 years. Beth and Jonathan were wonderful employers and did everything they could to keep their families, students, and employees happy. At that time we regularly received new curriculum and support from the corporation. I kept in touch with many of the families of children in my class and they continued to report to me that they were having good experiences with Beth and Jonathan and the center. After 2005 I lost touch with most of them as they began kindergarten and moved on to public school. Its sad to see them under attack because a corporation couldn't care less about people and are only interested in making money. I hope they are able to prevail and they can emerge a stronger school.
kimberly February 28, 2013 at 08:42 PM
yeah right!!!!! teachers are way underpaid there for all they do.
Meri February 28, 2013 at 08:48 PM
I was stating what I experienced at the time I worked there. That's all.
kimberly February 28, 2013 at 08:50 PM
There are a few good teachers. Miss Lauren, Miss carmella, Miss Jaszmin
Mike February 28, 2013 at 10:44 PM
oh please....Tutor Time or not....that place is the same. My son was there years ago and we pulled right out. Both of them are money hungry people. Many Tutor Times are beautifully run and managed. Kimberly you are completely right a few good teachers. They are not what they are cracked up to be.
Ernie March 01, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Would have been nice if both sides of the issue had been presented. I read the article twice and only read what the Turman's point of view was. Morgan Stanley must have an opinion. I am not in the habit of defending Wall Street bankers but I wouldn't call the article balanced.
Frank March 01, 2013 at 03:31 AM
The Patch is also running an ad for Kids By the Bunch on their home page. Also, another ad also appears for Dream Vacations run by Jonathan and Beth Turman. I am going to make the assumption that these are the same people in the article. Wow! Please don't make me take Morgan Stanley's side in this, but that really looks bad. At least run the ads two weeks from now when the article has run its course. Not on the same page as a sympathetic article! Put some thought into your quid pro quo!
Jonathan Turman March 01, 2013 at 04:48 AM
It's amazing how quick people forget 2008 and how the major banks on wall street destroyed the economy of this country. Small businesses are the backbone of this community and due to the economy many of them have been forced to close. Also, why people have to use phony names and make up stories just shows that integrity is something that is lacking in some people. I felt it was very important to share this story, after 18 years people wanted to know why the change. I believe the Patch showed why the change had to be made. Over the years we have had the privilege of serving hundreds of local families and we look forward to continuing into the future! Meri, thanks for the post, nice to hear from you.
Meri March 01, 2013 at 10:37 AM
You are very welcome Jonathan! I am a small business supporter and wanted to show my support for you guys. I always think fondly of my time working for your center and the experiences I had there. You and Beth were nothing but kind to me and gave me a great opportunity to work in a field that love. Wishing you both good luck with your fight!
Eileen Coles March 01, 2013 at 02:14 PM
At last night's hearing on the Pall & Photocircuits brownfields sites, there was a lot of concern about the safety of the children and yourselves given that you are immediately downrange from the plume of toxicity generated at these two sites. Mayor Suozzi said that they are looking at the possibility of moving your operation away from there and into the Coles School or perhaps another space that is safe. Can you tell us what your awareness of this issue is, what is the status and how does it impact the current lawsuit? I worked with Morgan Stanley for a while and they can be a very odious and greedy company. Don't sweat the commentary from the sock puppets, we know paid shills when we see them around here. ;-7 Best of luck.
Jonathan Turman March 01, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Eileen, I think you are confusing us with the Glen Cove Child Care Center which is located by the old Photo Circuits facility.
Paul Krause March 01, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Tutor Time opened I when I graduated High School in 1998, thats 15 years not 18. Cousin went there, he enjoyed himself. Glen Cove Patch might want to recheck their facts before putting out false imformation.
Micah Danney (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Tutor Time's parent company, Learning Care Group, does not comment on ongoing litigation. A line saying as much has been added to the story. As for ads, Frank, those are handled by our ad representatives. They work separately from the editorial side of things.
Micah Danney (Editor) March 02, 2013 at 02:07 AM
Our mistake - they have been with the franchise for 18 years. The Glen Cove location has been open for 15. Correction made, thanks for the catch.
JamesH March 07, 2013 at 03:16 AM
15 or 18 years ? c'mon now fellas, yer mising the point. All you have to do is mention Morgan Stanley, or any one of the Too Big To Fail, and I know where this is going. Not only did we bail them out to the tune of 'control of our entire economy', they are also beyond prosecution: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/holder-concerned-megabanks-too-big-to-jail/2013/03/06/6fa2b07a-869e-11e2-999e-5f8e0410cb9d_story.html But of course, their lawyers have the means and income to stomp on Mom and Pop operations, the small and medium business' that were the foundations of American success. I wish Jon and Beth all the luck, success, health and energy, pushing forward in these difficult times.
Mike March 07, 2013 at 07:04 PM
James, I believe if you knew more about how that place is runned you might understand a little bit more on the comments that you are reading. Just sayin. Also, they're always two sides to a story. Not saying Morgan Stanley is the best, thats for sure. :) But, that center "itself" does not have a great reputation on the north shore.

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