A-Z Kidz Zone Learning Center in St. Amant

A-Z Kidz Zone Learning Center in St. Amant, as seen on June 27, 2019.

A state administrative law judge upheld the revocation of a St. Amant day care's license that had been prompted by a child being left inside a hot van after a field trip in mid-June.

Administrative Law Judge Tameka Johnson affirmed the state Department of Education's decision in July to revoke the license for A-Z Kidz Zone Learning Center and rejected the day care's appeal of the decision.

In her ruling Wednesday, Johnson detailed the eight deficiencies that department inspectors found after the incident that led to the revocation and ruled the sanction was appropriately issued.

Though the day care had no prior violations of state rules, Johnson found the regulatory failures "posed a threat to the health, safety, and well-being of the children."

Her 16-page ruling followed a hearing on Aug. 27 in Baton Rouge.

The state Department of Education, which licenses and regulates commercial day care operations, issued the revocation July 11. The day care had appealed the revocation administratively, allowing the center to continue operating.

Day care workers had left the child in the van for five to six minutes on June 19, the judge noted, before the child left and knocked on the door of the day care off La. 431 to be let back inside.

Johnson also noted the workers didn't do the visual and other required checks to ensure which children were on the two vans that went on the field trip to a water park on June 19 and also that all of them also got off after they returned. 

The judge also found the day care's owner failed to notify the child's parents and the state in a timely fashion after the incident, writing that his plan to conduct an investigation first was not enough reason to go past the notification timelines set out in state law.

Leaving the child in the van constituted a "critical incident because it is a significant event relating to the health, safety and well-being" of the child, the judge found. 

Under the law, day care centers must notify parents immediately and tell the state about critical incidents within 24 hours. In this case, the child's parents weren't told until the end of the day and the state departments of Education and of Children and Family Services weren't told for five days afterward.

In A-Z Kidz Zone's appeal, the day care had argued the incident did not pose a harm to children. A cold towel was placed on the head of the child left in the van. The child was given a cold drink and was unharmed.

The worker responsible for getting the children out of the van was later terminated, and other safety procedures, including a new alarm, were established to avoid future incidents, the day care argued. 

The owner of the day care wasn't immediately available Thursday for comment.

Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.