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Parent expresses concern over child care provided at Weber State facility

By Ryan Aston - | Apr 27, 2024

Rob Nielsen, Standard-Examiner

The Shepherd Union Building on the Weber State University campus is pictured Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.

OGDEN — An Ogden parent is raising concerns about the care children are receiving at Weber State University’s Melba S. Lehner Children’s School following multiple incidents involving their toddler, one of which resulted in a trip to the emergency room.

Per the school’s website, it “serves as a training lab for students majoring in Early Childhood, Early Childhood Education, and Elementary Education, as well as a teaching school for young children.”

The first incident occurred in October when the child, a boy, broke his leg on the playground after falling “from one level of a play structure to another level,” as described in police documents.

It was an incident that could just be chalked up to bad luck. However, the repeating nature of the incidents — as well as the school’s response to them — has led the parent, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive and private nature of the incidents, to believe the facility has exhibited a pattern of neglect.

“I can’t handle the idea of other kids being in that classroom and their families not knowing what could happen to them,” the parent told the Standard-Examiner.

In December, the boy was involved in another incident, falling off of a changing table after a diaper change. The boy landed on the back of his head as a result of the fall and reportedly began exhibiting concussion-like symptoms.

After receiving an explanation from the school about what had occurred that the parent found unsatisfactory, they pressed for access to security footage.

They say that the footage showed their child being allowed to linger and even stand atop the table well after their diaper change was completed. During that time, the boy — who was still unsteady due to the previous leg injury — stumbled more than once before eventually falling off of the table.

According to the parent, the caregiver was present as this was occurring but didn’t appear to be within an arm’s length of the child.

A copy of the school’s incident report, which was provided by the parent to the Standard-Examiner, listed the time of the incident as 2:15 p.m. The parent provided a call log appearing to show that the school didn’t reach out to them until 38 minutes later.

The parent further asserts that medical personnel weren’t contacted in the interim despite the child’s symptoms. It was later assessed that the boy did suffer a concussion.

“In my mind, they should have called an ambulance as soon as it happened, knowing that he fell from that height. They should have called the ambulance when he was incoherent and couldn’t stay awake. Instead, they called me,” the parent said.

“I chose to take him to the emergency room, which only added time before he could get the care he needed. Just looking back, I think that was a huge mistake on their part that only put him in more danger.”

A third incident occurred in February when the boy was tackled, bitten several times and repeatedly punched by another child. The parent says they also were allowed to view footage of this incident, which showed the event playing out over a period of approximately three minutes.

That biting incident served as a final straw for the parent, along with the school’s reported inability to provide incident reports “on the day of occurrence of each incident, accident or injury involving their child,” as required of licensed child care facilities by the state.

The child was ultimately removed from the school.

“Two weeks passed before we were given any information about what occurred,” the parent claimed. “The lack of transparency just made us feel like they’re only interested in protecting themselves because, for more than two weeks, we didn’t know what happened to our child or how to help him cope with the trauma that occurred because they chose not to share that with us.”

Following the third incident, the Office of Licensing — part of the Utah Department of Health and Human Services Division of Licensing and Background Checks — conducted inspections that identified multiple issues at the school. Inspection documents for licensed child care facilities are searchable online through HHS.

Regarding the biting incident, it was deemed that “the children were not actively supervised by the caregivers who were positioned to where they could not see all children resulting in a child receiving multiple bites on their back.”

Meanwhile, a January investigation into the fall from the changing table similarly found that the caregiver hadn’t taken “the necessary steps to protect the children in care.”

Additionally, it was discovered that there were people working at the facility who had not completed preservice training, and at least two caregivers who were working despite the facility not having received notice of their completed background checks.

Other issues included wood product being used as protective cushioning on the playground not meeting depth requirements and Tylenol being found in a bin 45.5 inches from the ground near one of the care rooms.

An April followup inspection found that the school had corrected those and other issues that were identified. Meanwhile, Weber State University spokesman Bryan Magaña provided a copy of a letter that was emailed to parents acknowledging the incidents and describing steps that had been taken in their wake, as well as a training schedule for caregivers.

Magaña noted, via email, that an independent review to assess the operations of the children’s school is ongoing. He also offered the following statement:

“We take these incidents very seriously. Staff at the children’s school have been serving our local community since the early 1950s, caring for and teaching thousands of children, and helping the people who have entrusted their loved ones to their care to pursue their academic goals.”

The parent noted that they received a tuition refund from the university. However, that and other corrective actions have done little to ease their concern about a facility and a staff they say may not be receiving the resources they need to provide a safe environment for children.

“I feel like the issue here is, in part, administrative and systemic, where they’re bringing in a fresh batch of staff just about every semester that are not properly trained and they’re left alone with the children. They’re responsible for their well-being, but they’re not prepared,” the parent said.

“(The administrator) was the same person shoveling the snow, and answering the phones, and jumping in and subbing for people. Like, she was doing way too much for one person.”


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