COLLEGE STATION - A College Station day care has been shut down by the state after allegedly failing to comply with minimum standards.
Discoveryland Daycare and Preschool on Southwest Parkway was notified Friday by the Department of Family and Protective Services that it had been denied its permit (see the attached letter).
The daycare had been operating under a temporary permit for the last year. It was given its first temporary permit in May, when they moved into their current facility. The state says that Discoveryland wasn't able to meet certain minimum standards with their first permit, so a second temporary permit was issued in November. That permit was set to expire near the end of next month.
According to a state report, since last May Discoveryland has been inspected 13 times and cited for 76 deficiencies, 18 of those were considered to be high risk.
One investigation found the daycare was reportedly not buckling children in correctly when transporting them from school. The state says Discoveryland's poor compliance history demonstrates a lack of responsibility and creates an endangering situation for children.
The daycare, owned by Felissa Hammond, says they did not receive notice of the closure before Friday. They plan to appeal the state's decision.
We visited Discoveryland today and spoke with staff and parents. Everyone was shocked by the sudden decision.
"We received no notice. We didn't get an email. You would think they would give at least a day notice," said Office Manager and Assistant Director Sarah Contreras.
Contreras says the daycare corrected all the violations found by DFPS.
"We didn't harm any children. We didn't abuse any children. I feel like a lot of it is discrimination towards...obviously we have a black director and a hispanic assistant director," Contreras said.
One thing was obvious among all the parents we spoke to: they love Discoveryland and its staff, who they say care for and nurture their kids above and beyond their expectations.
As of last week, Discoveryland had 72 kids on its roster.
Three of those kids belong to Sarah Calzonci. Her oldest has Down Syndrome.
"I really don't trust him anywhere else. I really don't. I don't feel comfortable. Felissa understands him, he loves Felissa. He has a great time," Calzonci said, echoing the praises of other parents.
Meanwhile, many parents told us that they will continue to wait for Discoveryland to re-open, as they believe it should.
"Even if I had to pay more money. I wouldn't mind. I would come back," a confident Calzonci asserted.
DFPS documented violations. The daycare insists those violations have been corrected. Discoveryland's future is now at the mercy of the appeals process.