NORTH MANKATO — A large North Mankato day care will be closing if its owner loses an appeal to keep her license.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services issued an order Friday revoking the license for Trinity Daycare and Preschool, 1027 Sherman Ave.
The order set the revocation for Sept. 21 to give parents time to find alternative care, but the revocation could be delayed if the day care’s owner, Renee Thomas, appeals the order.
Several violations, ranging from falsifying records to verbal and physical abuse, are cited in the order. It says the violations resulted from licensing complaint investigations conducted from March through July.
Thomas denied the allegations and said she is planning an appeal. She also said she learned her license had been revoked through a phone call from Department of Human Services staff Monday and started notifying parents Tuesday. Her facility was licensed for 90 children, including infants and toddlers.
“Every day care has repeat violations,” Thomas said. “That’s very common. I’ve been doing this in the same location for 34 years, and I’ve never had my license revoked.”
The most serious allegations resulted from a child maltreatment investigation that resulted in 19 licensing violations, according to the revocation order. Seven staff members who were interviewed during that investigation reported seeing separate incidents where a day care administrator “engaged in rough handling of children.”
Those incidents included grabbing children by the arms, slapping or spanking children on their bottoms, “tapping or popping” children on the mouth, and “slamming” children onto the floor.
Staff members also reported that an administrator repeatedly called children names, verbally humiliated children and frightened them. Some of the names staff said the administrator used included “gay boy,” “fricking idiots,” “psycho,” “Satan,” and “chow chow.” The administrator also was asking toddlers to say the words “shit” and “retard,” the staff members reported.
Investigators also learned that several staff members had not received first aid and sudden infant death syndrome training even though Trinity Daycare records said they had. Thomas also is accused of not doing required background checks on some staff working at the facility.
Other violations cited included having infants sleeping in hammocks and a bouncy seat instead of cribs, not having the required ratio of staff to children in some areas of the facility, having a small child in the kitchen with a single staff member who was cooking, and having unsupervised children.
No other license revocation orders have been issued to child care centers in Nicollet or Blue Earth counties during the past five years, said Katie Bauer, Department of Human Services public information officer.
She also said a correction order, which allows providers to fix problems without closing, is the most common type of order issued when violations are found. There were 811 correction orders issued to the state’s 1,600 child care centers in 2011, Bauer said.
Child care centers are separate and have different regulations to abide by than the 11,000 home day cares in Minnesota that provide care for 10 children or fewer at a time.
Licensing sanctions are used for day care centers that have severe or repeated violations. Those sanctions include fines and license suspensions. A conditional license, which requires compliance with special terms to continue to operate, is also used as a sanction. A license revocation is the most serious sanction.
There were 100 licensing sanctions issued to child care centers in 2011. A total of 103 licenses were revoked in 2011, including the licenses of home day cares.
The Trinity Daycare revocation order said the center had received licensing sanctions, including fines, before the decision was made to revoke the license.
Another large North Mankato day care that was licensed for more than 100 children, Beans Plus, closed in June after the owner was evicted for not paying rent.