ATLANTA (AP) — The state has permanently closed a Clayton County daycare center where a 2-year-old died in a hot van in June, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning announced Tuesday.
Commissioner Bobby Cagle said he has revoked the license for Marlo's Magnificent Early Learning Center, which has been shuttered since early July when the state ordered an emergency closure while it investigated the June 20 death of Jazmin Green. Authorities said the child was left in the van outside the center for hours in the summer heat after a field trip to Chuck E. Cheese.
Daycare owner Margo Fallings, 41, and her daughter, Quantabia Shantell Hopkins, 23, have been charged with cruelty to children, involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct, police said.
According to court documents, Fallings and Hopkins waited more than an hour before they called 911 after finding Jazmin. The state's investigation found "shocking intentional misconduct" by the center, which investigators found violated multiple state rules and "demonstrated reckless disregard for the physical and mental health and safety of the children."
"We found the Marlo's staff did not perform adequate supervision and safety checks related to transportation," Cagle said in a statement. "Due to the dangers surrounding transportation, especially during the warmer months, it is imperative that everyone remain vigilant when transporting children."
Investigators also found that the center did not use appropriate car seats for four of the children and exceeded the eight-passenger van's capacity during the June 20 field trip. Investigators also found that the eight children were being supervised by an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old, which violates state policy requiring two adults to watch that number of children.
An attorney for Fallings and Hopkins could not be reached for comment. A message left at the center was not returned.
Bruce Harvey, an attorney for Fallings and Hopkins, has denied that the two falsified documents or tried to cover up the death.
Cagle said the daycare center did not appeal the state's decision.
A 16-year-old charged in the case pleaded guilty in early August to involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct. The teenager, whose name was withheld because she's a juvenile, was sentenced to two years' probation and 40 hours of community service.
State inspection records indicate the daycare had been previously been cited for what regulators determined was a failure to document a field trip. Authorities said the inspection showed that staff members did not initial or document the field trip form for children after a March field trip.
State officials say Fallings and other center staff attended training days after that incident and were instructed how to properly transport children. Georgia law requires that checks must be made after field trips to assure that no child remains in the vehicle.
An attorney for Jazmin's parents, Charles Green and April McAlister, said he wanted to review the state's report before commenting.