Chattanooga Times Free Press

Judge upholds state’s decision to suspend license for shelter

- BY WYATT MASSEY STAFF WRITER Contact Wyatt Massey at wmassey@timesfree or 423757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @news4mass.

A Tennessee administra­tive law judge upheld the state’s decision to suspend the child care license of the Baptiste Group, which was operating a shelter in Chattanoog­a for unaccompan­ied migrant children.

In his decision, Phillip Hilliard wrote the safety and welfare of children required immediate action and the Baptiste Group failed to show it had eliminated the potential for other safety issues. The judge pointed out the recent allegation­s of child abuse at the shelter.

“The egregiousn­ess of this type of conduct is irrefutabl­e,” Hilliard said. “While all children are vulnerable, the unique circumstan­ces under which unaccompan­ied minors find themselves in a foreign country under the care of people they’ve never met] certainly makes them an especially vulnerable population.”

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services suspended the Baptiste Group’s child care license on July 1 because of the allegation of abuse and a child that went missing from the facility. The Baptiste Group appealed the decision in a July 6 hearing, which the state declined to make public despite a request to do so from the Baptiste Group.

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