LOS OSOS - The founder and director of a private, Los Osos daycare center who's been accused of child abuse is speaking out saying she's been falsely accused.
Terri Sidener is proud of the Early Care and Education Center she created nearly four years ago at the former Sunnyside School in Los Osos. "I always thought when we opened we would have some wow factor", Sidener says about her now closed daycare facility, "everyone who every walked in the door said ‘wow this is beautiful!'"
Sidener says she modeled her daycare center under the Italian Riggio-Emilia approach, a bottom-up method to nurturing a child's needs naturally.
"We were looking to support the child and support the working family", Sidener says.
Sidener says last month one of her special needs kids, who she says has been with her when she opened, went into a tantrum.
Sidener says the parents instructed her to allow the child's tantrum's as part of the child's special needs development.
But according to a complaint filed with California's Community Care Licensing Department, which oversees and regulates private daycare facilities, a staff member walked into the classroom where the child was throwing the tantrum and allegedly witnessed Sidener physically strike the child with an open hand.
Sidener denies the allegation and has filed an appeal.
"They (Community Care Licensing) explained we can go ahead with the appeal process which they had not read yet, but they were going to start the process of license revocation", Sidener says, "they called it a two-track system."
Sidener says she has notified parents about her pending license revocation.
"When they understand that the Center is going to be shut down, they are going to be needing other child care, so they are looking for other child care", Sidener says, "staff was looking for other positions, and it becomes financially impossible to stay open."
One parent of kids at the Center we spoke with supports Sidener in her appeal.
"I hope that she might be able to open it back it up because I think it's a really great program", says Early Care parent Tina Dodd-Wilson, "I even am considering it for my younger child who is in a different school for awhile."
"I'm confident that this will go well", Sidener says, "I know what happened in my heart."
Sidener says she does not know how long she will have to keep her business closed pending the outcome of her appeal.
About 15 full-time and part-time staff members at the Los Osos Early Care and Education Center are now out of job.
Friday, May 24 2013 1:37 PM EDT2013-05-24 17:37:22 GMT
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