Below is the full text of the letter sent home to parents of children cared for at Jardin Magico on July 14.
Dear Jardin Magico Families:
A number of you have asked some important questions about Friday's news regarding the DHS review of our employment records. Hopefully, this letter will address those issues as well as give you details on how you can get more information.
First, all of our schools will be open and fully staffed tomorrow and thereafter. All classes and activities will go on as scheduled. While many of our teachers have been affected by this news, their absence – which we hope is temporary – will be covered in almost every case by a person already known to you and your children, in most cases by one of our new teachers who was hired in anticipation of the opening of our Eden Prairie and Maple Grove locations. Our newly hired staff members have been wonderful in stepping up to this unexpected challenge and we're grateful for their willingness to do so.
Second, we remain hopeful that our teachers affected by the DHS review will be able to remain with us by either contesting the DHS findings or submitting new documentation. While they do so, they are still Jardin Magico employees and we've given each of them paid time off to focus on those efforts. We believe that giving them the time – and the privacy – to decide what's best for them and their families is the best way to support them in this difficult time. Once we have a better sense of who will or won't be returning – by the week of July 22nd – we'll make permanent assignments and do a formal introduction of each new teacher.
In addition to paid time off, we held an informational seminar on Friday with our immigration attorney for all of the teachers affected by this situation. They were given a list of resources and offered the opportunity to speak with the attorney privately about the DHS process and their options. While the attorney – who is representing Jardin Magico in our discussion with DHS – can't represent our teachers on their personal cases, she did provide them with a legal referral list including individuals who can provide representation. In addition, we're also in the process of coordinating a meeting with the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota for the affected teachers to address their questions and concerns.
We're open to ideas on how to let any teachers who choose to leave have a chance to say goodbye, to visit and/or attend events such as Pre-k graduation. Any efforts of this sort, however, would have to be consistent with our legal obligations and our responsibilities to you.
Third, we can say without hesitation or qualification that our hiring practices have been, and will remain, in full compliance with all laws, with our licensing requirements and consistent with best practices in our industry. There is no higher responsibility for us than to make sure your children are safe and well-cared for and that responsibility demands we hire the very best people we can find. We're confident we've done that and will continue to hire to that high standard. You can expect – and deserve – the same high quality of care for your children on Monday and every day thereafter that we've always provided.
We've heard from a number of parents who want to reach out to teachers affected by this situation. While we cannot give out our staff's contact information out of respect for their privacy, we can promise you that we will pass along every request of this sort so that each person knows of your concern and interest and has your contact information.
A number of you have also asked for a meeting with us to discuss this situation in person and we're absolutely happy to do so. Knowing that everybody's schedule is different and crowded, we're holding three such meetings tomorrow – Monday – at 4:00 pm for the families attending our Minnehaha Avenue location, 6:00 pm for our Nicollet Avenue location and 8:00 pm for our France Avenue location. If the time identified for your school doesn't work for you, please come to any of the meetings that fit your schedule. We're still working on a location for the meetings so look for an email update to you on Monday morning.
At the meetings, we will provide an overview of what has happened, what we've done to move forward during this period of transition and what our long-term plans are. We'll also try to answer any questions you have including the one most frequently asked: what can we do to help our teachers caught up in this situation.
We've heard from some of you that you didn't get our letter on Friday detailing this situation and for that we apologize profoundly. It was our intention that each family receive not just a letter but that it do so while one of us – a Center Director or Assistant Director – was right there to answer any questions in person. While that happened in many instances, it clearly didn't happen in all and that is something we will learn from and improve on in the future. In case you are one of those who didn't get it, a copy of Friday's letter is appended below.
Finally, we want to thank you for the outpouring of support for our teachers and our school that we've heard in the last day and a half from so many of you. We share your distress at what our wonderful friends and colleagues are caught up in and hope nothing but the best for each of them. At the same time, however, we will never lose sight of the fact that our highest obligation is to you and your children and that your trust in us is the reason Jardin Magico is such a special place. We will do everything we can to remain deserving of that gift.
Natalie Standridge Lopez