Daycare, state differ on investigation

By Peter Shanley and John Ruch, Gazette Staff

The Arc-En-Ciel Daycare Center and Montessori School and the state child care agency differ on the nature of an investigation into its founding director, Linda Chery-Valentin, and how it might impact the school.

Douglas Martin, an attorney for Chery-Valentin, is claiming that the state Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), which licenses the daycare program, is not investigating Arc-En-Ciel, but only the allegations against his client.

Meanwhile, EEC is saying that its investigation might include Arc-En-Ciel, though it apparently has not yet.

Chery-Valentin was charged last month on two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of assault and battery for allegedly driving her car at a rector and a parishioner at Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon Church on Rockwood Street, where Arc-En-Ciel is located. She previously told the Gazette that she is innocent.

“The school itself has not been investigated,” said Martin. “They’re in full compliance. It’s a superb school.”

He added later, “There’s never been an issue with the safety of the children, and there won’t be.”

Martin said that Chery-Valentin still works at Arc-En-Ciel.

Theo Koziol, executive director of Arc-En-Ciel, said investigators from EEC recently met with her, but “they’re not investigating the school in any way.”

Kathleen Hart, spokesperson for EEC, wrote in an email, “The scope of EEC’s investigation may include, as appropriate, an examination of the program’s administrative policies, and a review of whether or not the program is following relevant procedures and regulations governing administration, child safety, and criminal offender records/background checks.

“The investigation protocol may include, as appropriate, interviews with program staff, program administrators, parents and the police officers who responded to the alleged incident involving Linda Chery-Valentin.”

She added that any findings of non-compliance would be noted in the report, along with any required corrective action on the part of program or its staff. The investigation is expected to be completed in a few weeks.

There is also a dispute about who holds the license for the daycare center. Hart wrote in an email that Chery-Valentin holds the license for Arc-En-Ciel and is its administrator. Koziol said she holds the license, while Amy McNamee, an attorney for Chery-Valentin, said Arc-En-Ciel as a corporation holds a dual license for the school and daycare.

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