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La Petite day care refuses closure

BY RANDY ELLIS Modified: April 18, 2010 at 11:34 pm •  Published: April 18, 2010
© Copyright 2010, The Oklahoman

La Petite Academy officials have refused a state Department of Human Services request to voluntarily close an Oklahoma City child care center where poorly supervised children engaged in sexual conduct last January.

The Department of Human Services has the authority to revoke a child care center’s license and involuntarily shut it down, but "it would be premature at this point to say revocation will take place,” said agency spokeswoman Mary Leaver.

Police and the state agency opened investigations of the La Petite center at 16301 N Santa Fe Ave. in January after the parents of a then 3-year-old boy reported he came home from the day care center with circles drawn around his nipples and hearts drawn on his buttocks.

The boy’s mother told The Oklahoman she has read reports and forensic interviews of her son and three other children that indicated multiple instances of oral-genital contact and other sexual conduct occurred between children at La Petite while they were unsupervised.

Licensing officials requested the voluntary closure of the child care center March 22 after new regulatory violations involving supervision and employee background checks were discovered while Department of Human Services employees were performing a follow-up visit regarding the January complaint, according to state records.

During the monitoring inspection, a Department of Human Services employee reported spotting a 4-year-old child who had wandered off from the prekindergarten room and was found alone in a classroom normally used by children from Edmond Public Schools.

"The teacher of the pre-k class was unaware of the child leaving the classroom until the director returned the child,” a DHS worker reported.

Licensing inspectors also reported that criminal history reviews were not done on employees until days after the employees had started working at the day care center.

"This is a serious noncompliance,” the licensing inspector stated.

Several other violations were noted in the March monitoring report, including:

• Having unlabeled medications in the kitchen cabinet.

• Having cleaning and disinfectant solutions within the reach of children in unlocked cabinets in rooms for 2- to 3-year-olds and 3- to 5-year-olds.

• Failure to post the center’s emergency procedure and evacuation plan as required.

La Petite corporate spokeswoman Amy Popp said she could not address specific questions about the center, but issued a prepared statement saying La Petite "is committed to providing the highest quality care in a safe environment to all of our families.”

"We have conducted additional training with all of our teachers on areas of child development and supervision,” she said.

Related Map

Enlarge Map 16301 N Santa Fe Ave.


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