Criminal charges against preschool teachers, closure of child care center tore a Colorado town apart

Parents, now scrambling to find alternative care after the abrupt closure of The Schoolhouse in Poncha Springs, are accusing authorities of overreacting to reports of a 5-year-old touching younger classmates

Jennifer Brown
The Colorado Sun
The Schoolhouse, a child care center in Poncha Springs, pictured Feb. 17, was abruptly shut down Jan. 24, leaving parents scrambling to find alternative care for their children.
John McEvoy/Special to The Colorado Sun

PONCHA SPRINGS — The midday message told parents to pick up their toddlers immediately — the child care center was abruptly closing, without explanation.

When parents pulled into the parking lot of The Schoolhouse in Poncha Springs on Jan. 24, they panicked at the sight of multiple law enforcement cars and six armed deputies in the foyer of the day care. Some feared it was a shooting. When they realized their children were safe, they wondered if they had been molested. 

Neither the sheriff’s deputies or Chaffee County child welfare authorities who joined them in the raid of the child care center were providing information.

Parents would find out two days later — after a group debriefing by the sheriff’s office — that a 5-year-old boy had been caught trying to pull down his classmates’ pants and that kids had said he touched their butts. Two day care directors who spent a few days trying to figure out how to handle the situation and then reported the incidents were charged with crimes — failure to report child abuse in the time allowed under the law and placing a child in a situation that posed a threat of injury. 

It’s been a month since The Schoolhouse was shut down and the drama reverberates beyond the loss of 24 child care spots in a child care desert. 

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