Happy Workers: Alternative facts or alternative reality?

Grad Rate, Ricardo Davis, COQEBS, featured, letter

Dear Editor,

In response to my Letter to the Editor regarding the Happy Workers takeover by R’Club,  Maria  Scruggs submitted a laundry list of “alternative facts,” or “alternate reality,” to defend her actions and decision regarding the learning center.  Despite this vigorous defense, the truth does not change by simply providing a different version.

Here is an example of Ms. Scruggs’ attempts to provide “alternative facts” (this new phenomenon in public discourse).  She claims that the statement I wrote “an action by R’Club to take over Happy Workers came after many years of licensing violations, which no one can deny” is not accurate.

A list of the violations Happy Workers accumulated since 2010 is below.  It is also available as a public record through Pinellas County (Child Care) License Board.  Her response to my article is replete with such attempts to twist the truth and deflect from the critical questions, which is understandable.

Here is another example, despite Ms. Scruggs’ alternate reality, which she claims was her clarity, at no time did Lutheran Services Florida (LSF), or any other entity, to my knowledge (except for R’Club) worked towards acquiring Happy Workers. LSF proposal to assist Happy Workers is a matter of public record and can be accessed and read by anyone interested in the truth.

A further example of alternative facts.  LSF’s representatives met with Happy Workers board on December 10, 2016, and proposed to provide technical assistance and training, and answered questions from all in attendance.  Everyone agreed with proceeding with a written proposal.  Shortly thereafter, a written proposal was submitted to Ms. Scruggs and the City of St. Petersburg for potential funding.  What Ms. Scruggs’ describes as surreptitious behavior was nothing more than an honest dialogue with the city regarding how to fund the proposal.

At a city council meeting on January 5, Ms. Scruggs made an appeal to council for funding of approximately $385,000 for Happy Workers, which included monies for the proposed assistance from LSF, and was not approved by the council.  However, LSF was not made aware that this appeal would be made, or that LSF’s proposal would be included.  When informed of this fact, Ms. Scruggs indicated that she “thought” she had provided a copy of the presentation.

Despite Ms. Scruggs rants and raves about her efforts to help Happy Workers since November 2012, many in the community wanted to help Happy Workers, but found it challenging to work with someone who wanted to do it “her way.”

What is clear is that Ms. Scruggs must take responsibility for Happy Workers performance during her watch.  What “our babies” need is a safe and healthy environment that provides a quality early learning experience and objectively measured child readiness outcomes that prepare these babies for kindergarten.

Dr. Ricardo A. Davis

Happy Workers School Readiness Noncompliance Timeline

11/17/16

  • Happy Workers’ School Readiness program placed on 6 months’ probation due to multiple recent health and safety violations

10/26/16

  • Licensing held staffing with Happy Workers in response to multiple Class II violations

  • Notified Happy Workers that license is being placed on probation status

10/20/16

  • Licensing issued Notice of Administrative Action and imposed the following fines per substantiated Class 2 violations from 10/12/16

    • $50.00- Daily Attendance
    • $50.00- Transitions
    • $75.00- General/Direct Supervision

10/12/16

  • Licensing completed a complaint inspection in response to the self-report to licensing that a 2 year old children’s classroom teacher left a child outside unsupervised

  • Licensing confirmed the lack of supervision, inaccurate attendance, transitions, attendance roster not with staff and accident/incident report

  • Issued Class 2 violations for 1) lack of direct supervision; 2) inaccurate attendance; 3) no attendance record with staff; and 4) failing to verify attendance accuracy at transitions

  • Issued Class 3 violation for 1) failing to obtain signature of the individual authorized to pick up the child on the date of the occurrence on the accident or incident report

9/26/16

  • Licensing complaint inspection report substantiated Class 2 violations for 1) child care staff failed to provide direct supervision of children in the two year old group of children evidenced by a two year old child left his classroom and was observed outside between the nursery building and the toddler building unsupervised; and 2) adult to child ratio was not met as a teacher left her room and asked the teacher next door to watch her both classes leaving one staff supervising 18 children

  • Complaint inspection report also substantiated Class 3 violations for 1) center failed to obtain the signature of the individual authorized to pick up the child on the date of occurrence on the accident or incident report; 2) center failed to document accidents/incidents on the day of occurrence; and 3)

  • Licensing issued a Notice of Administrative Action and imposed the following fines per substantiated Class 2 violations from 9/26/16

    • $60.00- General/Direct Supervision

9/9/16

  • ELC completed onsite School Readiness monitoring and noted noncompliance in the areas of 1) health and safety; 2) notification of rates provided to parents in writing; 3) Rilya Wilson absence documentation; 3) maintenance of records for five years

  • Health and safety noncompliance was identified upon viewing a copy of the providers most recent inspection report

  • The 7/12/16 licensing complaint inspection report substantiated a Class 2 violation for lack of direct supervision as well as a Class 3 violation for failing to document accident/incidents on the day of the occurrence

7/12/16 and 7/26/16

  • ELC received complaint from a parent stating that 1) children told them that other children hit them and another parent witnessed one of the children fighting with another child and the teacher was watching the whole time and never stopped the kids from fighting; 2)

  • ELC forwarded the complaint to licensing on 7/12/16

  • Licensing completed a complaint inspection on 7/12/16 and substantiated the allegation of lack of supervision

  • Licensing issued a Notice of Administrative Action on 7/26/16 and imposed the following fines per substantiated Class 2 violations from 7/12/16

    • $50.00- General/Direct Supervision

6/27/16

  • ELC completed a Tier 2 School Readiness attendance validation for the month of January 2016 sampling 16 children

  • Findings were noted for 1) child was not signed in or out on 1/14/16, but roster reflected the child was present; and 2) Arrows were used for 1/21/16 instead of the parent’s signature

  • The findings did not result in any payment adjustments

5/27/16

  • ELC approved Happy Workers corrective action plan for VPK assessment noncompliance

  • Provider did not administer AP3 VPK assessment in the correct time period in the 2014-2015 VPK program year

  • Based on OEL guidance at that time, Happy Workers was determined ineligible to deliver a VPK program for five years beginning with the 2015-2016 program year

  • In April 2016, OEL issued new guidance that gave ELC’s more flexibility with enforcement actions due to VPK assessment noncompliance

  • ELC notified Happy Workers on 5/5/16 of the new guidance and instructed them to submit a corrective action plan to ensure VPK assessment requirements would be met in the future by the provider

4/27/16

  • Licensing complaint inspection report substantiated Class 2 violations for 1) failing to provide direct supervision of children in the 2 year old group as evidenced by multiple incidents of children being left inside the classroom or unattended and the teacher responsible was unaware; 2) children did not receive adequate supervision while toileting or bathing; 3) the adult to child ratio was not met as there was 1 staff supervising 16 children 2 years of age during breakfast time; and 4) staff failed to verify attendance at transitions as upon arrival at the playground, staff failed to verify attendance for accuracy and two children were left inside the 2’s building

  • Licensing issued a Notice of Administrative Action and imposed the following fines per substantiated Class 2 violations from 4/27/16

    • $50.00- General/Direct Supervision
    • $50.00- Transitions

10/14/15

  • Licensing routine inspection report indicated Class 2 violations for 1) child care staff who had no proof that a local background check had been conducted in their personnel file; 2) child care staff whose local background screening was not completed within 5 years after the initial screening; 3) staff did not record complete and accurate attendance records as licensing inspector observed 7 children and staff in room 2A had 5 children marked in the attendance log; 4) outdoor play area was not clean, free from litter, nails, glass, or other hazards as a shelf that was broken with sharp edges, bench swing was broken, and light fell with exposed nails was observed; 5) outdoor play area posed a threat to health, safety or well-being of the children due to presence of hazardous items as yellow fish missing the handles, vanity and kitchen had broken/jagged pieces, tires on the ground had cracks and holes, pink riding toy with missing seat and blue rocking horse with missing handles was observed; and 6) outdoor play area not adequately fenced that could allow children to exit the outdoor play area as a 4 inch gap between the concrete wall and building on the infant playground was observed

  • Routine inspection report also indicated Class 3 violations for 1) child care staff with an expired Acknowledgement Form ; 2) parents of children enrolled were not provided information detailing the causes, symptoms, and transmission of the influenza virus; 3) records with incomplete Emergency Medical Release forms; and 4) records with expired Student Health Examination Forms; and 4) items related to diapering were observed on the diaper changing surface or stored in the diaper changing area

9/8/15

  • OEL determined provider not eligible to participate in the statewide Early Learning Performance Funding Pilot Project for having 6 Class II violations within the previous two years

4/29/15

  • Licensing renewal inspection report indicated Class 2 violations for center not having a current fire safety inspection by the local fire authority

  • Renewal inspection report also indicated Class 3 violations for 1) child care staff with an expired Acknowledgement Form ; 2) child care staff who did not have documentation of completion of a five hour early literacy and language development of children birth to five course, for staff employed for at least 12 months; 3) child care staff who did not attend the entire DCFS’s specialized training course, Infant and Toddler Appropriate Practices, within 90 days of employment in the infant room; 4) records with missing or expired DH680 Immunization Forms; and 5) bottles/sippy cups containing formula or milk were not individually labeled

4/4/15

  • ELC completed an onsite VPK monitoring and noted noncompliance with March 2015 attendance requirements for 1) using white out on monthly VPK Short Form; 2) VPK Short Forms signed early and for the wrong months; and 3) incorrect attendance on sign in and out forms and VPK attendance roster

5/15/14

  • Happy Workers submitted a Child Accident or Unusual Incident Report to the ELC that a teacher observed a child sitting in a stroller next to the toddler two classroom unattended for 3 to 5 minutes

1/30/14

  • ELC completed a School Readiness attendance validation for the month of October 2013

  • Results indicated no findings

1/13/14

  • ELC completed an onsite VPK monitoring

  • Results indicated all requirements were met

10/11/11

  • ELC received notice from PCLB of two Class 2 administrative fines imposed on Happy Workers for Personnel: Level 2 Screening

2/11/11

  • ELC issued an extended Service Improvement Agreement (SIA) due to continued noncompliance with developmental screening requirement

10/25/10

  • ELC issued an extended Service Improvement Agreement (SIA) due to noncompliance with reporting unusual incidents to the ELC including multiple licensing violations/fines and PCLB issuing an “Intent to Revoke” which affects their license status and ability to deliver a SR program

9/9/10

ELC issued an initial Service Improvement Agreement (SIA) due to noncompliance with discipline, developmentally appropriate practices, and receiving multiple licensing violations/fines

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