A former professional football player and his wife have taken over operation of two day care centers in town, including one that was the subject of a state investigation after an infant died in August 2018.

James and Brittany Ihedigbo late Friday acquired both Kiddie Academy of League City East, 2010 E League City Parkway, and Kiddie Academy of League City West, 1820 Butler Road, from the previous owners, Cory and Summer Bullock, James Ihedigbo said.

Ihedigbo on Monday declined to comment on what his acquisition of the day care centers means for the scrutiny the eastern location has faced since 4-month-old Skylar McNeel died Aug. 27, 2018, but said he looked forward to bringing a revitalized energy with the takeover.

“We are just excited,” he said. “This is a celebratory time for us in the family. We are really excited for what’s ahead.”

The Ihedigbo family lives in Friendswood and already owned one Kiddie Academy in Rosharon, called Kiddie Academy of Lakes of Savannah, and had been looking for other opportunities to expand the academies, James Ihedigbo said.

“The opportunity just presented itself for us to step in and take over the academies,” he said. “We are excited about the new venture. We are right here in Friendswood, so this is down the road and close to home. We are already part of the community, so it is easy to jump right in.”

State officials in late January reached a deal with the Bullocks to postpone plans to revoke the business’ permit to operate until administrative hearings concluded, as long as its operators fulfill several stipulations, according to the agreed filing in the 10th District Court.

The district court lists the case as abated until Jan. 1, 2020, or until both parties finish administrative proceedings, court records show.

Representatives for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which is overseeing the review, did not respond to multiple requests for comment by deadline Monday to discuss how the change in ownership might affect that case.

The child’s parents, Jared and Lindsey McNeel, also filed a lawsuit against Kiddie Academy International and Bullock’s Bright Beginnings LLC over Skylar McNeel’s death, asserting negligence allowed their daughter to smother and that center operators had attempted to deceive them and state investigators with false and misleading information.

But the McNeels in a late April filing requested the lawsuit be dropped against the Bullocks and their associated businesses, and the case against the day care business was moved to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, court records show.

James Ihedigbo, before becoming a day care center operator, had an almost decade-long career in the NFL, playing for the Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, among other teams. He won a Super Bowl ring while playing for the Baltimore Ravens.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com


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