ABITA SPRINGS, LA (WVUE) - The State of Louisiana moves to shut down a North Shore daycare, after it says four toddlers slipped through a broken fence, and went out onto main street in Abita Springs.
The pastor of the church that runs the daycare believes the state has an ax to grind.
The State Education Department said the incident happened 11 days ago.
"We were notified by April 8th by child welfare that these children were in the street, by a motorist, walking unsupervised down Main St in Abita Springs," said Ken Pastorek with the State Education Department.
A St Tammany Sheriff's spokesman says the motorist was joined by another motorist, who gathered up the kids, who apparently removed a fence picket, and escaped the play area at the Abita Church Christian Daycare.
"We have to protect the interests of the children in revoking the license, that prevents him from re-opening," said Pastorek.
The revocation of the daycare's license, comes as a surprise to some.
"She loved it," said parent Brian Biggs.
"It's always excellent, I've never had a problem here," said another daycare mom, who asked not to be identified.
But at least one other parent, who chose not to go on camera, told us of ongoing problems with the daycare.
The state says it revoked the license because the kids got out of a hole in the fence, and got into Abita's main street, but the pastor says that wasn't the case.
Pastor Jerel Keene admits the children, all under the age of two did escape, but never made it to the street.
"They got through the fence, went into the yard next door, a passerby saw them," said Keene.
Pastor Keene says he took quick action.
"The state was notified, and within three days, before they took any action, I fired the person in the back, and the fence was fixed," said Keene.
He claims the state, is out to get daycares like his.
"They don't want Christian daycares," said Keene.
The state says religious affiliation is not the issue.
"This individual had four children get out of his play yard and get out on a busy street," said Pastorek.
Daycare parents now scramble to find child care.
"At this point we've been contacting daycares and we can't find any room for our child," said Biggs.
And they say what they have found so far, is far away, and costs twice as much.
Pastor Keene says he decided to withdraw his license, before the state actually revoked it. Either way, the state says he will have to wait two years, before re-applying for a new license. Meantime, the pastor says he will continue to run a mother's day out program, which is outside of state regulations.