BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – Two day care facilities in Donnellson are facing the possible revocation of their state license as a result of complaints filed by state officials last week.
Raisin’ Em On Up and Raisin’ Em Up Learning Center located in Donnellson were at the center of 15 complaints filed after visits in April from Iowa Department of Human Services representatives.
Raisin’ Em On Up, located at 100 N. Main Street according to the reports, had five complaints filed on Thursday following several unannounced visits by DHS consultants in April. The reports indicated that facility director Sarah Tweedy, who oversees operations at both facilities, had transported more than seven children in center transportation on multiple occasions.
State regulations require a second person be in any facility vehicle with seven or more children. The report was filed by DHS Consultant Jill Seibert on June 11 and the complaint was logged on June 13.
On another unannounced visit on April 26, Siebert found alleged evidence after interviewing staff that two children had been left unattended on the center bus for an undetermined amount of time on separate occasions. A complaint was filed with DHS on April 25. Another similar complaint was filed on April 16.
Tweedy, who didn’t return several phone requests for comment Monday, indicated in a report on May 31, 2019 that in one of the incidents a child had leaned over and wasn’t observed in the van, but she was in the van the whole time and she brought the child back to the facility.
The two other complaints filed by DHS on that facility indicated failure to use curriculum and Tweedy allowing staff to take her required training courses for her.
All five complaints recommended a license revocation. The center was still open and operating when contacted Monday afternoon. The administrative process for handling revocations lies with DHS.
At the Raisin’ Em Up Learning Center, 607 S. Park Street in Donnellson, 10 complaints were filed against the facility on Thursday. All the complaints recommended license revocation.
The complaints listed were varied, including staff sleeping while children were under their supervision, duplicating medications, unlawful transportation, failure to use curriculum, leaving children on buses unattended, and improper ratios of supervisors to children.
In a report dated June 12, as a result of investigations from an April 17th visit, Siebert listed the following alleged text messages between staff at the Raisin’ Em Up Learning Center: (State staff removes the names in favor of initials in the texts to protect identities)
“Staff members indicated they were directed to send children under 2 years old (1:4 staff to child ratio) into the next room and pretend like they were two years old. They indicated ratio did not change to 1:4 ratio as it should have.
“On 12/18/17 Laura M messages Sarah T., K just showed up so we will need 2 in babyroom…technically we are over but if we claim R and G three we are good will boot M and J in babyroom.”
“On 3/2/2018 Laura M. messages Sarah T., “Okay….if Jill comes I am calling B 18 months? Are u leaving him out the rest of the day?” Sarah responds, “Well yeah I would definitely do that….he is j and j is j;) is he dressed today? How many of your 10 are 3?” Laura M. responds, “6 threes 4 twos.”
“On 5/29/18 Laura M. messages Sarah T., “We are pulling over L correct ? If state comes do u want me to try to lie and say B 2?”
All the visits and interviews with staff were conducted between April 16 and April 25th. Although all the recommendations of the 15 complaints were for license revocation, none of the complaints filed resulted in a serious injury or death of a child.
However, a death of an infant did occur at one of the facilities earlier this year and that is an open and ongoing investigation. Charges could be pending in that case.
Lee County Attorney Ross Braden couldn’t comment on the case because it is currently active.