Neighborhood association board votes statement of support for license appeal
The Marquette Neighborhood Association Board has voted to issue a statement of support for Red Caboose Day Care Center which is appealing last week’s revocation of its license to operate by the State of Wisconsin. The statement, introduced at last night’s meeting (July 24) by Board member Lynn Lee, is intended to affirm the institutional importance of the child care center in the neighborhood but not pass judgement on specific matters raised by the Department of Children and Families.
“The Marquette Neighborhood Association would like to affirm the special place that Red Caboose Daycare has in our neighborhood and for many in the city of Madison,” the statement begins.
Lee, who serves on the center’s board and his daughter attends the center’s after school program, felt the statement was needed because of the concern among parents over the future of the facility in light of the sudden revocation which he felt was a severe reaction.
“Just to make sure people understand how important this institution is to the neighborhood, we’re not talking to the specific issue,” Lee said of the intent of his motion to adopt the statement.
The DCF revoked Red Caboose’s license earlier this month after an investigation by a Dane County agency alleged that two employees failed to report a sexual assault at the center of a two year-old child by a 13 year-old volunteer in March.
The volunteer has subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault involving two cases including the one that occurred at the center. The center’s after school and Camp Caboose programs are unaffected by the revocation.
Red Caboose Board Vice-President Peter Kleppin and Executive Director Wendy Rakower attended the MNA meeting and said they will be appealing the revocation and still have not seen what specifically precipitated the investigation and the revocation since all the court documents are sealed.
“We feel in our hearts that we will be continuing in our operation and getting our license back,” Kleppin said. He added that Red Caboose is assessing all of their policies and training to prevent future situations.
One of the issues that may be at the center of the revocation is supervision of volunteers at the facility. MNA Board member Karyn Chacon, an East High school teacher with a child enrolled in Red Caboose’s school age programs, says she understands the sensitivity of the situation as to why there have not been many details released.
“I think that supervision, everywhere for me, could be tightened up in any situation. The level of supervision provided for my daughter at [Red Caboose] after school is superior to most places that i’ve been involved with, including our [Madison public] schools.”
Red Caboose has operated in the neighborhood since its inception in 1972 and was one of the first day cares in the city to be accredited which it has held ever since. The center can claim that a second generation of children is attending its facility.
The fact that Red Caboose is such an integral part of the community, serving all populations over its history was likely the key motivating factor for the Board in voting a statement of support.
“This motion is not asking the board to adjudicate anything regarding guilt or innocence. It’s simply saying that Red Caboose has been a vital institution that’s contributed a lot to diversity of things, services to the community, said Board member Carl DuRocher.
“The detrimental impact to a vast number of kids if this were not available in the community, would outweigh what’s being looked into. If Red Caboose weren’t there that would be harm, because we would be losing something valuable.” he added.
The motion to send a statement of support to Red Caboose was passed by unanimous vote with two abstentions.
MNA Statement of Support to Red Caboose:
The Marquette Neighborhood Association would like to affirm the special place that Red Caboose Daycare has in our neighborhood and for many in the city of Madison.
Red Caboose is more than just a not for profit business: It is truly an important institution that many of our neighbors who attended as children now send their children to in order to have the same great experience.
Red Caboose serves a diverse population and is relied on by hundreds of current families both for pre-school daycare and for after-school programming for older children.
We encourage everyone to consider the above and let’s make sure that Red Caboose is not weakened or undermined and that it is given the best opportunity to continue to be an asset for our neighborhood and city.
[Update – 07/25/2014, 8:15 p.m.] Corrected number of counts the 13 year-old minor pleaded guilty to. The minor was charged with five counts but only pleaded guilty to two.