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Academy rating stays unfazed after Oklahoma City child care center's violations

BY RANDY ELLIS Modified: April 18, 2010 at 11:36 pm •  Published: April 18, 2010
Despite being asked to voluntarily close due to a lack of supervision, the La Petite Academy at 16301 N Santa Fe continues to operate and be rated as a three-star center by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

The three-star rating is the highest rating possible and is held by less than 5 percent of the 4,550 child care centers in the state. It entitles qualifying centers to receive substantial additional reimbursement from the state and is one of the tools DHS officials encourage parents to use in determining where to place their children.

"There’s an administrative process that has to be followed to take the star ratings away,” said Janice Matthews, state licensing coordinator.

"The non-compliances that they’ve had, we will not necessarily rush to take an action like revoke the facility,” Matthews said. "We are trying to give them an opportunity to correct what non-compliances they may have and review any possible plans that they may submit to us as to how they plan to correct that action.”

Licensing records show administrators of the N Santa Fe La Petite Academy have signed numerous correction plans over the last two years that contained standard warnings that violations could result in their star rating being lowered or their center being closed.

Michigan-based La Petite Academy is one of the nation’s largest educational child care companies, with more than 500 child care centers, including 19 in Oklahoma.

All of the Oklahoma La Petite centers carry the coveted three-star rating, which entitles them to receive higher reimbursements for state-subsidized child care. For example, a one-star center would only receive $15.50 a day for an infant less than a year old, while a three-star center would receive $35.

Despite their lofty star ratings, an examination of electronic monitoring reports on the DHS website reveals that as a group, the 19 La Petite centers have been cited for more than twice as many licensing violations during their last three inspections than a random group of 19 one-star centers of equal or higher capacity selected by The Oklahoman for comparison purposes.

The 19 La Petite centers were cited for 152 violations during their most recent three inspections, while the one-star centers were cited for just 67. Ongoing Coverage: Watchdog


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