Three-year-old Macie Opperman died last October after a play structure toppled onto her as she played outside at Park Side preschool in Newark.
The Investigative Unit first broke the story in this report, detailing what happened according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Macie’s parents Jeremy and Leanne Opperman. The preschool filed a response denying any wrongdoing.
Now an attorney for the Department of Social Services, has filed an accusation requesting the revocation of Park Side Preschool’s license to operate a day care center.
Inspectors went to Park Side after Macie’s death and issued two Type A violations against the preschool in November.
The report noted “the play structure was not anchored to the ground, which allowed it to tip over” and there was “no cushioning to absorb falls.”
Inspectors stated both violations posed “an immediate health and safety risk to children.”
Park Side declined to be interviewed but said in an email, “…the preschool decided to close voluntarily.”
A statement posted to the Park Side preschool’s Facebook page reads, in part, “…we received a letter from the state notifying us that our license to operate has been reviewed and they plan to revoke it. We could choose to address the licensing board’s concerns but have chosen not to appeal their decision. Our hope and prayer is that by choosing to close the school at this time, we will not only provide all the families, children, staff and entire community affected with a more peaceful environment to grieve and heal because of this tragedy.”
But six days after posting that message, Park Side attorney Sarah Truong filed an appeal for the school to keep its license.
Truong declined to answer questions about why she filed the “Notice of Defense,” to appeal the state’s revocation action. She said the school will close April 19, 2019.
According to Michael Weston, a spokesman for the Department of Social Services, Park Side is scheduled to discuss its appeal at the Office of Administrative Hearings on June 10th.
Truong confirmed she would be at the June hearing to represent the school but declined to answer further questions about why the school would need that hearing if it is voluntarily closing by April 19. “The school has no plans to re-open at this point,” Truong said.