Salem daycare suspension sparks pot debate

Salem daycare suspension sparks pot debate

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by Chris Willis, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 30 at 8:39 PM

SALEM -- The state of Oregon has suspended the license of a daycare in Salem because the manager and other staff members smoke pot at the facility while children are on-site.

But the manager of the Alphabet Academy Learning Center, Charity Araujo, says she has a medicinal marijuana prescription and the state has okay her use, with a couple provisions.

First, she is not allowed to smoke pot in the presence of the children. And second, there must be another adult present to be the primary caregiver of the children when she’s high. Araujo said she’s not doing anything wrong.

“Stop being so judgmental, it’s not like we're running around playing with our kids all high,” Araujo told KGW.

She said four employees have medicinal marijuana prescriptions. And she’s confident the state will reinstate the day care’s license.

“I think that it's the lack of knowledge that's the problem,” she said.

Background: Salem day care suspended over medical pot use

Parents who take their kids to day care centers and schools in Portland are now asking questions.

“Of course safety is a really big concern,” said mother of three Maarit Pulli.

Pulli takes her kids to Childswork Learning Center in Portland, which is one of the top 15 centers for kids in the state and they've been teaching kids for 30 years. Executive director Kim Hill said parents absolutely must do their homework before trusting their kids with anyone.

“They should ask, 'How do you hire your people? What are the credentials you're asking for? How do you know that they're proven? Checking references, talking to previous employers, things like that, which a lot of people do shortcuts on,” Hill said.

It was hard for KGW to find anyone who said smoking pot at a day care is a good idea, whether it's medicinal or not. And every expert said trust is the biggest key for parents.

Ethan Moses, a lead teacher at Childswork said safety and trust for parents is paramount, when parents leave their children with anyone.

“Consistency is a huge part of being able to trust where your child is going to go,” he said

The state has set up a resource for parents to check every licensed and registered daycare in Oregon, through Oregon.gov.

There you can check for possible violations, complaints, active licensing and employees. The state encourages parents to call 503-556-6616 with additional questions.

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