Ascension Parish daycare ordered to shut down ‘immediately’

Ascension daycare ordered to shut down 'immediately'

PRAIRIEVILLE, LA (WAFB) - The owners of a Prairieville daycare who lost an appeal Tuesday must shut down “immediately,” a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Education says. Tuesday morning, a judge upheld the decision to revoke the license of Alphabet Soup Learning Center.

The owners of the facility were accused of having “a history of noncompliance,” according to a news release from the state.

Jill Craft, the attorney representing Alphabet Soup, says the owners have filed an appeal to the 19th Judicial District Court and have requested a stay. Craft says they hope to get a decision from a judge Wednesday morning about the stay, which, if approved, will allow the business to remain open pending the appeal.

The owners allege the state unfairly targeted their facility and piled on random and unfair citations against them after they complained about how one particular state inspector was conducting inspections. In revoking the license in February of 2018, the Louisiana Department of Education claimed Alphabet Soup threatened the “health and well-being” of the children there. The owners of the daycare were allowed to remain open while they appealed the decision to the state’s Division of Administrative Law (DAL).

The DAL is a state administrative hearings panel that settles disputes between state agencies and the citizens they regulate by assigning the case to an independent Administrative Law Judge to decide.

The Louisiana Department of Education says the center over-medicated a child and had more than 70 other deficiencies dating back two years, including “insufficient child-to-staff ratios, supervision, and documentation.” Regarding the child who was allegedly over-medicated, Craft says they showed proof during the appeal hearing that the parents of the child had altered the form and that daycare workers had done nothing wrong. Craft says the state seized surveillance videos from inside the daycare and reviewed a period of multiple weeks of videos in coming up with many of the nearly 70 other alleged deficiencies they cited.

“They used the videotapes to review days and weeks worth of tapes to go back and write her up,” Craft said. “A majority of the videotapes contained only partial views, yet they relied on those tapes to come up with their claims. Then, at trial, they did not produce any videotapes.”

Craft says part of her appeal to Tuesday’s decision will also focus on the fact that the judge who oversaw the start of the appeal resigned before making a decision. The case was transferred to another judge, who reviewed the previous testimony, then issued a decision Tuesday.

Alphabet Soup opened in 2002.

“This is a daycare center that has operated for a very long time without incident,” Craft said. “They have faithfully served the children of Ascension Parish and pray they will be given the opportunity to continue to do so.”

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