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Judge upholds day care site’s closing

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State inspectors found more than 50 problems at the Kid Co. Day Care Center and Preschool in Center Grove. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
State inspectors found more than 50 problems at the Kid Co. Day Care Center and Preschool in Center Grove. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

An judge has upheld the state’s decision to close a Center Grove area day care.

Kid Co. Child Care Center, 2503 Fairview Place, Suite A, Greenwood, had appealed the state’s decision earlier this year to revoke its license. After hearings conducted in November, administrative law judge Shanida Sharp-Byrnes ruled the state’s action to revoke the license is within reason.

Kid Co. attorney Robert Baker said he disagrees with the judge’s decision, and the day care will appeal the decision. The center is allowed to remain open during any appeals, meaning the center could remain open for several more months, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration spokeswoman Marni Lemons said.

The day care was cited for violation of state codes more than 50 times this year and was put on probation in June 2012. The center’s license allows it to care for more than 100 children daily.

“The (Division of Family Resources) decision to revoke the Center’s license is reasonable due to the Center’s ongoing pattern of noncompliance,” the ruling said.

Kid Co. can request an agency review within 10 days and has up to 20 days to submit a letter stating why it believes the ruling is incorrect. If a review is not requested within 10 days, the center would have to close immediately, Lemons said. If the day care asks for a review, a different judge would review the record of the hearings and reconsider the decision. No new evidence would be presented.

Baker said the day care will ask for the review and is prepared to take the issue to a county court if the review supports the ruling the center should be closed. The day care is owned by Prashith Srivastava, who could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

“I don’t think much of it. I don’t agree with the findings, do not agree with the hearing officer’s conclusions and don’t agree with the decision. Are we going to appeal it? Absolutely. It is absolutely a wrong decision,” Baker said.

Sharp-Byrnes’ ruling states that Kid Co. had five violations for using harsh or physical punishment, three citations for failing to supervise children and two citations for incorrectly grouping children by age. Those repeated violations set up a pattern of noncompliance with state rules, leading to her decision to uphold the state’s effort to shut down the center.

Details of some of the incidents dating back to October 2011 are included in the written decision, including several instances of staff using physical punishment on children.

Four incidents occurred between February and June 2012, when Kid Co. was placed on probation. During that time, the state investigated incidents of a bus driver smacking the hands of children who were arguing on the bus, a teacher grabbing a student by the chin and turning his head, a teacher letting a child slide to the floor and yelling “Get this child away from me or I am going to kill him” after he hit her, and a bus driver stepping on a child’s foot. In all four of those cases, the staff member was fired, according to the ruling.

Kid Co. then had multiple violations again early this year. In January, three children started fighting with each other while a teacher stepped out into a hallway to check his cellphone. The teacher broke up the fight, but it continued, and one of the children received a cut to his head.

In February, a state inspector cited Kid Co. for an incident in which a teacher dragged a special needs child by both legs from a hallway into a classroom. The teacher kicked the child on the bottom of his feet and buttocks at least three times. The same teacher laughed at boys who were fighting and made inappropriate comments. Kid Co. said it had consent from the parent to drag the child by his feet, but the parent testified he never told anyone to drag

his son.

After that incident, the state made the new attempt to close the day care. Since February, Kid Co. has remained open and received 44 additional citations.

Day cares have been shut down in Indiana after the state decided to pull a license, Lemons said. Typically that occurs when a day care chooses not to fight the decision and closes voluntarily. Instances in which a day care appeals and goes through hearings as Kid Co. has are rare, she said.

During the November hearings, attorneys from the state and Kid Co. presented evidence, and witnesses testified about specific events and inspections that happened prior to and after the center was put on probation in

June 2012.

While on probation, Kid Co. was given six months to correct the problems identified by the state and agreed to undergo monthly inspections. The violations were not fixed, and the day care continued to receive new violations in late 2012 and early 2013. In February, the state decided to revoke the license and try to close the center.

Since October 2011, Kid Co. conducted staff training, reported incidents of injuries or potential abuse to the state and fired employees after some of the violations, according to the ruling. Those actions were not enough to sway Sharp-Byrnes, who ruled that despite trying to fix the problems, the center continually failed to comply with state regulations.

“Although the Center has corrected or attempted to correct several areas of noncompliance, including terminating staff and conducting in-service training, the Center was repeatedly out of compliance with Indiana’s child care center rules,” the ruling states.

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