Children unexpectedly disenrolled from Thornton preschool

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THORNTON, Colo. — Families said they were shocked and frustrated Friday after receiving an email from their children’s preschool alerting them they’d be disenrolled starting Monday.

In the email, HighPointe Academy’s owners said the school has been making necessary staffing changes.

As a result, the preschool does not have enough teachers to comply with the state’s student-to-teacher ratio so it had to disenroll students.

The email was sent Friday morning and the change is effective Monday. The owners sent the email to 36 families. They chose families who hadn’t enrolled yet in the summer program.

Arlene Vigil said she’s sent children to the preschool for years. Her 5-year-old daughter Mia started there when she was a baby and was a month away from graduating.

“She’s been there since she was 6 weeks old. She’s gone to every summer camp,” said Vigil. “I was very upset because I had been there for so long and then there was no notice.”

To make matters worse, the Tri-County Health Department believes there has been a prolonged outbreak of norovirus at the facility.

Since late January, there have been 60 students and 15 faculty members who have fallen ill. Students who have been disenrolled cannot attend other schools in the area until they are cleared of their symptoms.

Vigil’s husband Victor Medina said families are scrambling.

“Come Monday, we have to find somewhere to send her. I know there is a ban on any kids from HighPointe Academy to go anywhere because of the outbreak,” Medina said.

Vigil and other families from the preschool said they had no idea the facility was experiencing a possible norovirus outbreak.

“That makes me upset to know that I have taken her there that long and no one has said absolutely nothing,” Vigil said.

The owners said the staffing changes were unexpected. Former employees said staff have been driven out of the facility because of poor management. Medina said it’s clear something is going on.

“I don’t understand how you can go through staff that fast,” Medina said.

The letter the school sent parents read:

Dear HighPointe Families,

As you may have noticed, we have been making many much needed changes to the Center in a way to better serve our children/families and staff.  It has been a rough transition but absolutely vital and necessary to create the type of environment we not only wish to offer but are required to offer.  Sadly, as a result, we have lost some staff members in the process which has resulted in a struggle for the Center to stay within state required ratios.   Because this is necessary to keep the Center open and running, the State is asking us to dis-enroll enough students to bring us into the required ratios.

Because we are short on staff, we must dis-enroll your child effective today in order to remain within ratios.  We will be crediting you this week for two days.  Should you have an outstanding balance due the Center, please pay by Monday, April 17th to avoid any late fees.  If you have a credit balance, we will refund this to you via check on Monday.  Please email us if you unaware of where your account stands.

We deeply regret having to take this move and have loved having your child here at the Center.  We greatly appreciate your support and faith in us.  As soon as space becomes available we will reach back out to you should you have a need or interest in rejoining HighPointe Academy.  It is incredibly difficult losing your family but we believe this is our only option to move ahead in the direction we need and wish to take HighPointe.
Feel free to email or call us should you have any questions or concerns.

Ray and Laura Lee

PS – Attached is a letter from Tri-County Health Department concerning what you need to be aware of when changing child care centers.  In addition, Human Services would like to provide you with the following telephone number for resource and referral information (1-877-338-2273) which you may also find helpful.

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