A Christian preschool was unexpectedly shuttered this weekend after racking up a slew of safety and health violations in Orange County.
Crescent Avenue Preschool in Buena Park has received nearly 40 citations from the Department of Social Services since 2011, including 18 that were deemed immediate health, safety, or personal rights violations.
Some parents of the 90 enrolled children were mailed a notification letter late last week, just a few days before Tuesday’s official start date. But some said they didn’t receive any notification. Now they are scrambling to find a new preschool while 11 teachers are forced to start searching for a new job.
“We just want our staff and we just want to make sure that parents are being told the truth and stand up for what’s right,” said Olimpia Castillo, a former teacher who worked at the school for 9 years.
A list of charges posted on the school’s front door offered more specifics on why it was closed.
“Between 2012 and 2014, there were numerous instances where teacher’s aides are supervising children without qualified teachers present. There have been several instances of children using the restroom without visual supervision and being left napping with no teachers present in the room," the statement read.
State officials also claimed that the school was not complying with background checks for its employees during the last three years.
"Between 2011 and 2014, numerous staff members have been allowed to work in the facility prior to their criminal record clearance being transferred or obtaining a criminal record clearance," according to the charges.
During three inspections since 2011, sign in/out sheets have been incomplete and don't correspond with the actual number of students at the school, according to the department.
As recently as last month, trash cans in classrooms "did not have secure lids and discarded food was left inaccessible to children in care," the complaint stated.
The school has been licensed since 1990 under the Crescent Avenue Church of the Nazarene.
A pastor for the church declined interview requests by NBC4.
At one point, angry parents who were protesting outside the school blocked the pastor from leaving the church parking lot in his pickup truck.
Others showed up in support.
“I saw the things that the state accused them of. They were not true,” said grandmother Elaine Lester.