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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Day care owner appeals closure

Suspension of Little Bears license called ‘unfounded’

A large Spokane child care center shut down by the state has appealed what its owner said is an “unfounded” decision.

The Academy of Little Bears closed last week after the state Department of Early Learning suspended its license based on complaints of unreported abuse.

In an appeal filed Tuesday, a center representative said the complaints were actually referrals called in by the center’s employees at owner Lori Sayman’s direction.

“The implication made in the notice is inflammatory and distorts the facts in the case,” according to the appeal prepared by Deborah Rosser, a “lay representative” with Advocates for Provider Rights and Education.

The child care center, located at 1104 W. Heroy Ave. on Spokane’s North Side, had appealed a license revocation from October and was to have another hearing in March, but new complaints prompted the state to close the center immediately.

A hearing is set for Thursday to determine if the center, licensed to care for 201 children ages 12 months to 12 years old, will be allowed to reopen, said Amy Blondin, spokeswoman for the Department of Early Learning.

The center logged 27 valid complaints between August 2005 and September 2009, according to the department.

The latest incidents occurred this month and in December, according to a letter sent Jan. 13 to Sayman.

On Dec. 23, a 2-year-old girl with bruises on her face told employees “mom did it,” according to the letter. But the employees didn’t immediately report the abuse as required by state law, nor did they report allegations of sexual activity between children, according to the department.

The department received a complaint about alleged sexual activity between a 4-year-old child and other children at the center that the suspension letter says wasn’t reported to parents.

The center “vehemently denies” that the child’s parent wasn’t told.

Sayman learned of the activity from a parent, then talked to the child and his parents, according to the appeal.

“After the meeting, the parent informed Mrs. Sayman that she had reason to believe that her child was ‘making it up,’ ” the appeal says.

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