Department of Family and Protective Services Child Care Licensing on Tuesday closed the New Life Learning Center on Loop 323 across from John Tyler High School.
A Department of Family and Protective Services, or DFPS, letter sent to New Life Learning Center Director Denise Robertson states:
"Within the past two years DFPS conducted 29 inspections and cited your operation for 72 deficiencies. The deficiencies included minimum standards related to supervision, ratios, background checks, transportation, personnel and fire safety. A repetition and pattern of deficiencies occurred in the areas of administration and communication, background checks, discipline, field trips, fire safety, personnel, ratios and group sizes, record keeping, safety practices and school-aged activities. In addition in July 2013, a staff person at your operation neglected a child."
The Investigators – a reporting team representing the Morning Telegraph and KYTX CBS19 — went to New Life last week, walked into the center and found only one worker with the children.
When asked if the director was available, multiple answers were given, and The Investigators were asked to leave the premises.
Repeated phone calls to the center and to church officials associated with the center went unreturned.
One violation concerned a teacher accused of kicking a child at the center. Another concerned a child being left unattended while on a field trip for 27 minutes, which the inspector said placed the child in "immediate risk of harm."
The letter also stated, "DFPS also considered that your operation has been placed on evaluation or probation multiple times in the past for similar types of deficiencies. You have demonstrated that you are unable or unwilling to comply with the minimum standards, which places children at risk. As a result, revocation of your permit is appropriate."
Karlee Fillip, a parent with a 5-year-old who attended New Life, said she had no idea the center had so many deficiencies and that her experience there had been overwhelmingly positive.
Her child started kindergarten this year and was picked up at school and watched by center staff each work day, she said. Her sister used the daycare center for years without complaint or concerns, she said.
Ms. Fillip said the sudden closure put many families in a chaotic search for daycare options.
"I know there are a lot of angry people," she said. The state "could have handled that part differently."
"They had no concern about the families when they closed them with no explanation or warning," she said.
Ms. Fillip said despite the state citations, she would have no concern about her child attending New Life again.
"He loved his teachers there," she said. "Every time I picked him up, he was doing homework. I don't believe they had all those problems."