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The sudden closure of The Chaffee Childcare Initiatives program at The Schoolhouse in Poncha Springs on January 24, and the filing of misdemeanor criminal charges on January 26 against the program Executive Director Amy Lovato and the Center Director Roberta Rodriguez have shocked many people across Chaffee County.

Lovato and Rodriguez have been charged with Child Abuse and Failure to Report Child abuse stemming from the January 25 investigation and closure of the Poncha Springs, Schoolhouse daycare facility. The case is being handled in the 11th Judicial District Court by Park County-based District 11 Judge Brian Green; a move necessitated when Judge Diana Bull recused herself because she, herself was/is a Schoolhouse parent, and District 11 Chief Judge Patrick Murphy recused himself as well.

It would appear that the 11th Judicial District is proceeding with the prosecution of the case; which began with what some have called a show of excessive force that shut down The Schoolhouse without notice, almost immediately followed by criminal charges. An assessment of those charges is provided here.

The motions filing deadline is March 10 (attorneys for Lovato and Rodriguez have already filed a motion to dismiss)  and a pretrial court date is set for March 30.

None of this comes cheap. Educators — especially early childhood educators — are not well paid (which in and of itself some would say is a travesty of society’s misplaced values).  Ark Valley Voice has learned that supporters of Lovato and Rodriguez have started a Go Fund Me page to help them with their legal expenses related to the charges. It can be accessed at this link: