TINYTOWN SHUT DOWN

The Department of Social Services (DSS) has shut down a popular San Jose preschool for, among other reasons not typically used to shut down a school, a parent bringing snacks to the school for a birthday party.
Charulata Vaidya has worked at Tinytown Preschool for more than two decades and has been a recognized partner with Gayle Davis in the ownership of the preschool since 1992. In 2006, when Gayle Davis sold her share of the preschool to Charu Vaidya, the DSS demanded that Charu apply for a license to operate the preschool.
As soon as Charu became sole owner of Tinytown, the DSS took on a “double standard,” asking Charu to change the snack menu for the children, which they had approved for the prior Licensee, and requiring her to submit multiple applications and resubmit required documents. The DSS asked Charu to have several extensive and expensive facility repairs made, which were not required of the prior Licensee. Charu submitted the documents as requested, had all requested repairs made, and changed the menu according to the DSS officials’ specifications.

Administrative Judge Ralph Venturino has since upheld the license denial of the preschool to Charu, despite her 23 years of experience, dozens of letters of support from parents, and the support of State Assemblymember Joe Coto and County Supervisor Pete McHugh.

Mike Potter, District Director to Assemblymember Joe Coto, attended Tinytown’s most recent administrative hearing: “As a parent of a six-year-old, I have spent time in several preschools in the San Jose area. [I] found the [Tinytown] facility and its recent repairs to be consistent with the other schools I have visited. This school has far more outside play area then some I had seen.”

Supervisor McHugh has also written in support of Tinytown: “I strongly recommend that the Community Care Licensing Division grant [Charu] a license to operate Tinytown Preschool and Daycare. Our children need more opportunities for education and proper care. Tinytown has operated successfully under a State license for many years [and Charu] has been associated with that successful operation for over 20 years. From a public policy perspective, it does not seem to make sense to close down a facility with such a long track record of success.”

Charu is an Indian-American immigrant. Parents whose children have attended the preschool and preschool staff contend the license denial is based on racial discrimination; a group of parents has written to the Department of Community Care Licensing to petition the decision. Supervisor McHugh has written to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as well, asking for his assistance and support. Members of the outraged South Asian community and the Federation of the Indo-Americans of Northern California (FIA) have sent a petition to the Department of Social Services.

Charu has spend approximately $72,000 on attorney’s fees and spent over $8,000 on facility repairs. Charu has lost her and her family’s livelihood and is currently searching for a Civil Rights Attorney who would be able to take on her case on a pro bono or contingency fee basis.

We encourage India Currents readers to learn more about Tinytown and to come out in support of Charu Vaidya. Charu can be contacted at 408.926.4695.

Raj Jayadev and Chaitanya Vaidya, San Jose, Calif.

SHASTHA SUCCESS

Congratulations to both Mani Krishnan and Kalpana Mohan for the success of Shastha and for an article (“Desi Food Nation,” India Currents, March 2008) well-risen … oops, well-written! I have been a big fan of Shastha Batter from day one, and it is one of the American “comforts” I miss most after my move to Bangalore.

With Krishnan’s determination and enthusiasm, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Shastha Batter in Food World in India!

Buvana, online

H-4 VISA TRULY CHALLENGING

Meenu Gupta’s “Life on the H-4” (India Currents, February 2008) was an inspiring article. Young girls who come to the United States on the H-4 visa do face the problem of not being able to work and needing to find fulfillment. I know of a couple in which the wife could not handle the limitations of the H-4 and left her husband for a job in India; it was heartbreaking to see them go through this. I think Gupta should start a web portal for women on the H-4 visa.

Neelam Mathur, online

EYE-OPENING INTERVIEW

Ranjit Souri’s interview with Anuradha Mittal (“How U.S. Food Aid Policies Perpetuate Poverty,” India Currents, March 2008) was very educational. It was an eye opener for me to read that “hunger is not caused by food-shortages” but rather by socio-economic policies.

Prabhu Prasad, online

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