Craig Harris/Macon County Times The Child Care Agency Board of Review postponed a case until April 17 regarding an appeal made by Lafayette's Works In Progress Daycare Center.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

The Child Care Agency Board of Review postponed a case until April 17 regarding an appeal made by Lafayette's Works In Progress Daycare Center.

Works In Progress Daycare Center in Lafayette remains involved in an appeals process after the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) filed legal action to revoke its child care license in February.

The Child Care Agency Board of Review was set to hear the case on April 3 and determine whether to uphold the ruling, but the hearing has been rescheduled.

"The attorney was not able to make it," TDHS Press Secretary Sky Arnold said of the reason for the move. "(But) the day and time has been finalized for the hearing. It's at 9:30 a.m. (on April 17)."

If the board upholds TDHS action, Works In Progress will face closure and its director, Stacie Ritchie, would be unable to apply for a new child care license for one year, although Ritchie could also appeal the hearing itself and continue the process at the next level.

"(Our next step) is largely going to depend on the results of the board's decision," Ritchie said, noting that probation, suspension or sanctions are also possibilities. "We want to save the license, because without the license, we're not going to be able to operate."

If Works In Progress appeals the board's decision, the center will continue operating as the process moves forward.

"The board could do civil penalties or give them probation as part of their decision," Arnold said. "If they don't agree with the board's ruling, they can appeal it in chancery court."

The TDHS decision to revoke the license is based on 35 violations it found during routine visits dating back to January of 2014. A record of those violations and the steps taken to correct them is available on the TDHS website.

The most notable violation was recorded in September of 2018, when former employee Ashley Centers was arrested after allegedly abusing children at the center. She was later indicted on 13 counts of child abuse and neglect by the Macon County Grand Jury.

Video footage from the center was provided to local law enforcement and state DHS officials following the incident, reportedly showing Centers slamming two girls on to their sleeping mats and kicking another girl lying on her sleeping mat, among other incidents.

The center's closure, if enacted, could pose problems for local families due to its capacity. There are currently 130 students enrolled (although some are part-time) that would have to consider new day care options.

"There's not a child care facility in Macon County that can house that many children," Ritchie said. "It would be a big adjustment for a lot of families. We've been very cooperative with the DHS, and we want to plead our case. We feel like there's still a huge demand for child care here that we can fill."