Since the decision was made, countless allegations have arisen about the nature of the shutdown, followed by complaints from parents and former staff members alike.
A group of former staff members, who wish to remain anonymous, brought their concerns personally to the Patterson Irrigator’s attention after reading an article in the Patterson Irrigator, “Child development center temporarily closed” on July 25.
The article announced that the decision to close the facility was made after two incidents resulted in the Community Care Licensing Division to issue two type A violations for a lack of supervision.
Staff argued that CCCD were forced to change their routine after a new Supervisor was put into place at the Patterson location. According to the employees, it was the Supervisor’s decision to change separate outdoor periods into one, forcing toddlers and preschoolers to be placed together under the supervision of only 6 staff members.
“Our handbook says there must be a one to four ratio of teachers for toddlers and one to eight ratio for Supervisors,” said a former employee. “We brought it to the supervisor’s attention but she didn’t care. There were 42 children and the ratio was not considered.”
The staff also placed in work orders to change the door handles, which can be easily grabbed and pulled open by a student. Their warnings were ignored, according to former employees.
The employees added that the child, a young girl, did not wander out of the facility, but wandered into a classroom, where she was quickly tailed by a teaching assistant.
The supervisor wrote the report without inquiring about the incident and without speaking to the teaching assistant, said another employee.
“The report said the little girl was left alone for 15 minutes. Where did she get that information? We were not even outside for 15 minutes, and she never talked to the person who caught the child,” one employee answered.
“[Concha Alvarez, the executive director of CCCD] was anticipating a penalty,” said another former employee. “She gave us a letter that we would be terminated…permanently, even though the state licensing hadn’t even came yet.”
“Other centers knew we were closing before we even knew,” added another.
All the employees aired their grievances, stating they’ve never been written up throughout their service at the school.
Meanwhile, the Westley center was to close down in October permanently after the Westley Supervisor leaked the information to fellow employees. It was the Westley Supervisor’s wish to take over the Patterson center, said one employee, and replace them with the Westley staff.
“She kept saying, ‘that big office is looking really good,’ meaning as if she were going to take it over,” said another former employee.
The Westley Supervisor eventually did gain control of the Patterson center. And even though the Patterson center closed down, the Supervisor was the only employee kept under contract.
“I feel betrayed,” said one employee. “Who can you trust? You try to do what is best for your agency and you get closed down. There were two incidents in Westley and they didn’t report it. Now our agency is saying we have a zero tolerance policy.”
“The incident that happened was based on a report by the Supervisor. There was no professional interrogation, and they didn’t return our phone calls when we wanted to tell them what happened,” added another.
The employees were also concerned for the parents, who must drive towards Newman, Westley or find other services within the region, and the children who are forced to neglect CCCDS rules.
According to an employee, their handbooks states the children must be assimilated for two weeks before finally being placed in another classroom. The former teachers were surprised to see how the children were expected to start school Monday with a new bunch of classmates.
“This just shows how much they are not concerned about the children,” said a former employee.
What makes matters worse for the former staff members is the fact that the facility is docking their pay and benefits, regardless of their years of service, back to start-off wages, and will not hire the original teachers unless they act as substitutes.
“That is what we get for being honest…an early retirement,” one added.