ST. AMANT, La. (WAFB) - The operating license of a daycare in St. Amant has been revoked after a child was reportedly left in a locked van in mid-June.
The decision from the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) came down Wednesday, Sept. 11. The Division of Administrative Law (DAL) affirmed the department’s decision to revoke the license Wednesday. Click here to read the full report from DAL.
LDOE revoked the license in July. The center filed an appeal with LDOE, and following standard process, LDOE forwarded it DAL for final review. DAL affirmed the Department’s decision Wednesday, following a court hearing in late August.
The report says the daycare “failed to take steps reasonably necessary to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of children in its care, as evidenced by a critical incident that occurred on June 19, 2019, and a violation of the licensing rules, regulations, and minimum standards stemming from that critical incident, which resulted in A-Z being issued eight deficiencies.”
The daycare appealed the decision, arguing the incident did not result in any harm to the child and that the employee responsible had been fired. The daycare also said additional measures had been put in place to ensure such a thing would not happen again.
The report from LDOE states the child was left unattended in a daycare van after a field trip to PARDS Water Park, and that the daycare did not have the proper signed parental consent form from the students’ parents to take the children to the water park. The report goes on to say two employees drove the children to the water park, but when they returned, did not check to make sure all children were present. About five minutes after the child was left behind, she knocked on the door of the daycare and told an employee that “Ms. Melissa left her inside the van.” The other employee then put a cool rag on the child’s head, and gave her something to eat and drink.
The owner of the daycare was contacted, who reportedly told employees the child’s parents would be notified immediately, however, the child’s mother was not told about the incident until later in the day when she came to pick up the child, the report says.
The owner of the daycare did not report the incident to LDOE or the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) until June 24, five days after the incident.
An inspection was conducted at the daycare on June 24 and July 1 and the daycare was cited for eight deficiencies:
- Critical Incidents and Required Notification
- Daily Attendance Records
- Child Abuse and Neglect Policy
- Transportation –Supervision
- Parental Authorization-Field trip
- Field Trip Record
- Field Trip Visual Vehicle Check
The initial incident happened June 19 when a child was forgotten and locked inside of a van at the A-Z Kidz Zone on Highway 431 in St. Amant. Allegedly, a headcount was not made when children were getting out of a van after a field trip. One girl, who was asleep, was left on the van and the doors were locked.
According to the WAFB First Alert Weather Team, temperatures reached 93° in the area on June 19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the temperature inside a car can rise almost 20° within the first ten minutes, even with a window cracked open. Children left unattended in parked cars are at the greatest risk for heat stroke and possibly death, the CDC reports.
In a Facebook post from the child’s mother, the daycare gave her child cold towels, water, and ice to cool her down. The mother says the daycare never notified her of the incident.
“We could be planning our child’s funeral right now instead of her birthday party,” the mother’s post read.
In a list of inspection visits, LDOE lists an attendance violation for A-Z Kidz Zone on Feb. 5, 2019.
“The center’s daily attendance record for children did not accurately reflect the children on the child care premises at any given time as 53 children were present and 86 children were signed in on the log. S1 stated that the before school children had not been signed out after leaving to rider the center van," the report states.