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Oklahoma Department of Human Services, advisory committee are accused of open meeting violations

A representative of an Oklahoma child care association has written a letter to state and county prosecutors accusing the Department of Human Services and the state’s Child Care Advisory Committee of violating the Open Meeting Act.

BY RANDY ELLIS Published: March 20, 2013

Cosper said many members of her organization do not believe their views were adequately represented by the Oklahoma Child Care Association, which has about 500 members.

Opposing viewpoint

Kathy Cronemiller, president of the Oklahoma Child Care Association, said her organization doesn’t share Maus’ view that the Open Meeting Act was violated by the advisory committee.

“I don’t see how it can be an Open Meeting violation,” Cronemiller said. “We knew about the meetings and attended the meetings.”

Cronemiller said her association was disappointed with certain aspects of how the meetings were conducted, such as child care providers not being allowed to speak until the last five minutes of meetings.

The Child Care Advisory Committee voted last week to recommend new licensing regulations and providers weren’t allowed to speak until the vote had already been taken, she complained.

The proposed new regulations contain tougher standards on things like hand washing sinks and square-footage requirements in rooms for infants. The standards would be costly and particularly difficult for child care centers in some older churches to meet, Cronemiller said.

Sheree Powell, spokeswoman for DHS, said agency officials are evaluating Maus’ complaint with the attorney general’s office, but at this point believe the Child Care Advisory Committee complied with the Open Meeting Act.

“This committee and any of its subcommittees only make proposed changes to rules under the Child Care Licensing Act,” Powell said. “Only the state Legislature has the authority to approve such rules. ... Once the rules are proposed, rule-making procedures are followed, including holding a public hearing. Thereafter, final rules are adopted or rejected by the Legislature.”

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