CLEVELAND - An exclusive NewsChannel5 investigation has uncovered serious safety-related violations at a child care center owned by Cleveland Councilman TJ Dow.
Records obtained by NewsChannel5 show an inspector with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Services found three serious violations at the center, located at 8610 Hough Avenue in Cleveland, during two inspections in July.
During a July 31 inspection, the inspector reported "children were not supervised, in that children were left unattended when a ccsm (child care staff member) left the classroom to open the door. Children must be supervised and within sight and hearing of a child care staff member at all times."
During the same inspection, the inspector found "that no second adult was available within the building as needed from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. When there is only one child-care staff member on the premises with seven or more children, a second adult must be available within the building at all times."
During an inspection on July 16, the inspector reported "a ratio of 0 child-care staff member(s) for 3 children was observed for the preschool group when children were being supervised by a teenager who did not meet the requirements of a child-care staff member."
The inspector also found numerous minor violations. A total of 34 violations were noted during the two inspections. The violations involve attendance, employee records, emergency plans, medical/enrollment records and menus.
WEB EXTRA : View ODJFS inspection reports for the Dow Leadership Institute here: http://on.wews.com/UmR5mv
During each inspection, the school was instructed to "discontinue use of the playground." The inspector found the space was "not protected from traffic and other hazards."
The inspector also found "at least one child care staff member with currently valid training in first aid... and valid infant, child and adult CPR was not present" during the July 31 inspection.
During both inspections, the inspector also found problems with the center's records. The inspection report says: "In review of 25% of the children's records, it was determined that current medical statements were not on file, as required."
The inspections were sparked by a complaint filed by child care center's former administrator on June 14. The administrator complained to the state one day after The Dow Leadership Institute sent an email to the state saying the administrator "has been released."
The Dow Leadership Institute has submitted a corrective action plan to ODJFS.
It says the center has hired an "administrative assistant" so child care staff members do not have to leave children unattended to open the door.
The plan also says a "second adult" has been scheduled as needed to comply with state child/staff ratios.
The plan says "health and emergency transportation forms" are now on file for each student and that children now use an "outdoor play space" at Mary B. Martin Elementary School.
Dow declined our request for an on camera interview, but did send NewsChannel5 written responses to our questions.
Dow said the center "has hired (3) individuals since the inspections."
He said the center was not using a dangerous play space at the time of the inspection and is "utilizing a space that has been approved by ODJFS. "
Dow also said the center "has taken steps to ensure that current medical statements are on file and periodically checked for all children."
Dow admits there was not a child care staff member certified in first aid and infant, adult and child CPR during that inspection. However, he said a staff member with that training "had been hired" and started work on Aug. 6.
Dow also disputed some of the inspector's findings. He said the teenager the inspector saw in the building during the July 31 inspection was "a board member's son," was not supervising the children and that a "CCSM was on site."
He also said "a second adult was in the immediate area" and that there were not enough children at the center to require a second adult be present during the inspection.
State records show The Dow Leadership Institute was licensed to operate a child care center for up to 26 preschool age children in March. Dow said 12 children are currently enrolled at the center.
The Dow Leadership Institute is also a charter school. It opened in 2011 and is sponsored by Richland Academy in Mansfield. Dow said it has 110 students this school year.