Harrisburg preschool shutdown after complaint filed

Investigators

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The S.M.A.R.T Preschool in Harrisburg was shut down in May after a complaint was filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

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According to the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning, a complaint inspection was conducted at the S.M.A.R.T Preschool, 101 South 25th St. Harrisburg, on May 20th.

According to the report, one staff member was alone with three children, which violates state requirements. The other staff member on duty was across the parking lot at Mcdonald’s.

The report says when staff members were asked for their background clearances and the files for the children, they could not provide them and stated they just started working at the preschool the previous week.

According to the report, the owner of the school, Eric Waters, was contacted and he also could not provide the childrens’ files or staff clearances. Waters stated he would have the required information by noon the next day. He reportedly emailed the office the next day saying he could not provide one of the staff member’s information because the file had been “thrown out” by a previous employer.

As a result of the inspection, the school was shut down on May 24 citing violations relating to general health and safety, departmental access, suitability of persons in facility, minimum number of facility persons in the child care facility, individual child records, individual adult records and relating to a responsible person.

Click image above to read closure order

The state said the violations “constitute a gross incompetence, negligence, and misconduct in operating a facility likely to constitute immediate and serious danger to the life or health of the children”.

Waters told the abc27 Investigators he faced staffing shortages due to the pandemic and was forced to hire people quickly. He says he was confident the staff had their clearances and has since obtained copies and is appealing the decision and hopes to re-open the school in the fall.

“The people hurt most by this closure is the children, especially in the city where they need quality care,” Waters said.

An appeal hearing is scheduled for October 14.

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