Day care in Willis shut down over repeated safety violations

Todd's School of Merit day care in Willis has been shut down due to multiple violations

August 12, 2013 3:40:09 PM PDT
A day care in Willis has been shut down after the state found an alarming number of violations, some of which directly put children in harm's way.

Todd's School of Merit has a capacity of more than 200 children, so it has left a lot of families scrambling to find new child care arrangements. The day care is closed, pending the outcome of a due process hearing.

It was eerily quiet at Todd's School of Merit on Monday. No kids. No grownups. No movement. That's because the state revoked the day care's permit with a letter, addressed to the director, Kristin Garrison, dated Friday. The letter cites more than 100 violations over a two year period and five violations from August 2, including:

  • Prohibited Punishments -- Humiliating, Rejecting, Yelling
  • Prohibited Punishments -- Using Inappropriate Long Period of Silence or Inactivity
  • Director -- Operate in Compliance
  • From July 25 officials cited 10 violations, including:

  • Responsibilities of Caregivers -- Supervision of Children
  • Responsibilities of Caregivers -- Free of Other Activities
  • Prohibited Punishments -- Hitting With Hand or Instrument
  • On Monday a notice was taped up in the day care's front door, telling parents only that the school is shut down for the day and that more information is coming.

    Sandra Woodward was a student at Todd's School of Merit more than 20 years ago.

    "I was three or four. My sister came with me," she recalled. "Actually the whole community went to Todd's when we were little."

    But Woodward says the original owner, Clayton Todd, sold the day care years ago. She's now a day care worker herself and says she was offered a part-time position at Todd's seven months ago. She turned it down.

    "Just working in day care for so many years, you notice certain things," Woodward said.

    The letter says Todd's was on probation in December 2011 to June 2012, and then again in March of this year. But this latest move leaves some people in the town of Willis wondering.

    Woodward said, "It's a shame. All the kids have nowhere to go, parents have nowhere for their kids to go."

    The letter also tells the director a copy must be sent to every parent within five days and it must be posted in a prominent place at the entrance. The daycare does have the right to an administrative review.

    To learn more about Texas Child Care Licensing, visit the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services' website. Find Adela on Facebook at ABC13AdelaUchida or on Twitter at @adelauchida

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