Pushpin preschool death spurs Assembly bill 1820
by Elizabeth J Carlyle 2/27/2012 12:00:00 AM
Pushpins may be banned from all daycare facilities, preschool and kindergarten classrooms if AB 1820, introduced last Wednesday by Assembly member Marty Block (D-San Diego), at left, is signed into law, reports Jim Sanders of the Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert.
The legislative effort was prompted by the choking death in August 2011 of a 3 year old boy, Tyler Howell, in San Diego. Block said the brightly colored pins used to tack items onto bulletin board or office partitions can attract children, and if swallowed, the Heimlich maneuver is not often effective because of their shape.
According to the North County Times, Kid'n Biz, the Montessori preschool Howell attended in Oceanside, had no previous safety violations on file prior to his death, but the school has been cited for a "debris that could be a hazard" in a small side yard during a random site inspection last May.In October 2011, California Department of Social Services (DSS) investigators determined that Tyler had been allowed to use the bathroom without supervision just before he choked, and that while inside the bathroom, he had access to pushpins that were being used to hold up artwork. Investigators cited the school for having "small, sharp, pointed objects" in places accessible to children, according to department records. Officials assessed a civil penalty of $150 ---- the maximum allowed under the law ---- with the citation.
The state also cited the school for violating care and supervision rules that say "no child shall be left without visual observation of a teacher at any time" other than a few circumstances.
The school appealed both citations, and the state denied both appeals, according to documents and officials. The state issued a third citation for violating rules that require supplies to be kept in storage space that isn't used for other purposes, such as playing or napping, officials said.
In addition to the legislative effort, the parents also filed a lawsuit on January 5, 2012, with Vista Superior Court, that alleges negligence on the part of Kid'z Biz Inc.
The family's attorney, David Casey Jr., said, "It (the lawsuit) really tracks the findings of [the DSS] investigation that found there was both a lack of supervision and a lack of putting things that could be dangerous to children away," Casey said.In October 2011, a toddler, Jacorey Davis, also died from choking on a pushpin while at day care in Kentucky.