Morenci city council: Day care complaint 1.21.09

Written by David Green.

First at the city council meeting, then at the planning commission meeting, questions arose about an incident in December in which the residential zoning administrator gave a warning about unlicensed day care center.

At the Jan. 12 council meeting, audience member Peggy Decker asked how the investigation came about.

City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder explained that an anonymous letter arrived that listed seven or eight people as operating unlicensed day care centers.

She investigated city and state requirements and contacted Baird. He visited the people on the list and told them about the requirements.

“Why is it the city’s decision about where kids go?” asked Chad Schisler from the audience.

Schroeder said the city was responding to a complaint.

“Does the city respond to every anonymous complaint?” Schisler asked. “It seems that if a person was really serious, they would have signed their name.”

That same question arose Monday at the planning commission meeting. Scott Merillat thought that a name was required on complaints and mayor Doug Erskin asked if the city follows up on all anonymous complaints.

Merillat questioned the use of city resources to investigate an anonymous complaint.

Schroeder said she has mixed feelings about the issue. In this case, it could have been ignored, but if it was ignored and an incident occurred at an unlicensed day care center, she wondered if the city could be ruled negligent.

Erskin said the issue falls under the state’s jurisdiction and it should have been referred to the agency that handles child care matters.

Baird pointed out that city law addresses child care in homes that have fewer than six children.

“Some complaints aren’t acted on,” Erskin said. “I wonder why we jumped on this one.”

Baird said that some complaints are of a civil nature and they wouldn’t come to his attention.

“I think we would be negligent for not looking into this situation,” Baird said.

Erskin said that a problem in this case was the letter that was sent to day care owners. It sounded threatening, he said, and gave day care owners only five days to respond.

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