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Englewood School Board Member Challenges City Health Officials' Complaint About Day Camp

Angela Midgette-David
Angela Midgette-David Photo Credit: FACEBOOK

UPDATE: An Englewood Board of Education member is challenging a city Health Department complaint that she didn't properly fingerprint three employees at a new summer day camp last year.

One of the three is a security guard who already was working in the city school district, said Angela Midgette-David, the director of the Englewood Summer Theater Enrichment Program.

The other two were twins working as junior counselors who were under 18 at the time the Health Department complaint was signed, she said.

A Municipal Court hearing on the matter was scheduled for Wednesday, but that will be postponed, Midgette-David said, because her attorney will be unable to attend.

Complaints by disgruntled employees drew the attention of city and state authorities after the couple's non-profit program was launched in late June.

Nearly 100 children at one point attended the ESTEPNJ program, which was mostly run out of the Janis Dismus Middle School, city health officials said.

The second day, the camp was temporarily moved to the high school.

On the fifth day, City Health Officer James Fedorko and City Health Inspector Jennifer Galarza went there to check on the program.

According to a city Health Department report filed by Galarza, a security guard directed them to the auditorium.

“It was dark inside and very quiet,” Galarza's report says. “We heard some whispering.”

Galarza said she identified herself and a teacher opened the door.

“The teacher told me that they [were] on lockdown because there was an intruder in the building,” the inspector wrote. “I could sense the fear in the teacher’s voice as she told me that.”

Former employee Janna Smith claimed that Midgette-David called staffers at the high school and told them to go into "lockdown mode" that day because “there was an intruder in the building.”

Midgette-David said Tuesday that she "did not call for a lockdown."

Smith is a disgruntled former employee making false accusations as part of a bid to remove her from the school board, said Midgette-David, who is up for re-election later this year.

A few minor issues were left, she said.

In her report, Galarza wrote that she "advised the teacher that the camp was never approved to begin operating and the kids’ parents must be contacted to pick up their children.”

She said she told David that the camp “must stay closed until all of the documentation is in order and the state performs their pre-opening inspection.”

A week later, investigators from the state Department of Children and Families came to Englewood, reviewed the program and cleared it to reopen.

“No children exhibited physical manifestations of harm,” nor was there any proof that counselors “failed to provide the children with food, water, proper supervision and other basic needs," according to a letter from Investigator Derrick Edwards, co-signed by Supervisor Lina Gaza.

Although the camp shouldn’t have been opened before the scheduled pre-inspection, “there were no children [who] were neglected by staff,” Edwards emphasized.

“The camp was within compliance through local and state health departments as of July 16, 2018,” he added.

In the end, Midgette-David said, certain people simply have been out to get her.

The documentation, however, clearly shows that state authorities responsible for investigating the claims ruled them unfounded, she said.

"Everything was in compliance. There was water, there was food, everything was there," Midgette-David told Daily Voice on Tuesday.

All that's left, she said, is the backgrounding complaint, which Midgette-David said she's fighting.

When it comes to the security guard, "it's all about how to handle a background check when someone is already employed with the state and already in their system," she said.

"We'll have to see what the state says about" the twin counselors, who just turned 18, Midgette-David said. "They weren't 18 at the time. The state said those over 18 had to be fingerprinted."

Anything else is "defamation of character" by people out to derail her bid for re-election, Midgette-David said.

"It's just fake news," she said.

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