Riverhead day care gets its license back

09/21/2011 4:07 AM |

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | This Riverhead day care facility has lost its franchise agreement with Kiddie Academy.

A Riverhead day care facility that shut its doors last after month after being hit with 79 state violations had its license reinstated last Thursday after correcting the most serious offenses, state officials said this week.

Riverhead Kiddie Academy, located in the same Kroemer Avenue complex that houses Planet Fitness and Saf-T-Swim, had its license suspended in August, at a time when 26 of the 79 infractions had not been rectified.

The suspension has since been lifted, though owners Krista and John Donnelly will have to attend a hearing on the charges sometime in December, said Office of Child and Family Services spokeswoman Pat Cantiello.

“They corrected the imminent danger violations,” she said. “But the revocation remains in place.”

Mr. and Ms. Donnelly, who can still run their business with a revoked license, will then have the right to appeal the hearing officer’s decision on the revocation, and the facility could remain open until the appeal rights have been exhausted, Ms. Cantiello said. The couple plans to operate the facility the usual hours and to continue using the same curriculum, though Kiddie Academy, a nationwide chain of pre-schools, has terminated its franchise agreement, said the Donelly’s attorney, John Ciarelli. The Riverhead location is not affiliated with other Kiddie Academy franchises, such as the one operating in Wading River.

A spokesperson for Kiddie Academy did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

Mr. Ciarelli said the facility has been at the Riverhead location for the past six years, though his clients have only owned and operated it for the past three. He said this is the first time the day care center has faced any action from the state.

“It is a popular business there with a very loyal clientele,” he said. “We now have some breathing room to show that the revocation of the license is not justified.”

As of Wednesday, nine violations remained uncorrected, including employing staff that did not comply with state qualifications and having improper food storage. For a full list of violations at Kiddie Academy and other day care facilities in New York State visit ocfs.state.ny.us/main/childcare.

vchinese@timesreview.com