MADISON, Wis. - A Madison day care center is closed after the state revoked its license last week, following a complaint that the center employed a man convicted of murder.
The Angels Joy Learning Center at 4293 W. Beltline Highway in Madison closed after the state Department of Children and Families revoked its license Dec. 20.
The department received a complaint saying a man with a felony conviction of murder was employed by Angels Joy Learning Center and had contact with children, according to the license revocation letter obtained by News 3.
The Angels Joy Learning Center sent a statement to News 3 saying, in part:
"We are aware that the closing of the center has affected many families. Please know we are doing everything possible in cooperation with licensing to rectify this situation. It is our goal to have our facility up and running as soon as possible. Thank you to the Parents and the Community who have rallied behind us with ongoing support."
The complaint to the state showed the employee, Tracey Ferguson, was paid "off the books" to conceal his presence at the day care center.
Illinois court records show Ferguson, 44, was convicted of felony murder with intent to kill/injure and felony aggravated battery with a firearm in January 1993 in Cook County, Illinois. He was paroled on Jan. 26, 2018, according to the state.
Documents show Ferguson is the brother of center director Angela Ferguson, and that he worked in the center, cleaning, doing maintenance work and working in the kitchen while children were there.
While licensing specialists from the state were visiting the center, Angela Ferguson told them Tracey Ferguson only worked after hours, was not an employee, was not regularly scheduled and is not paid by the center.
Angela Ferguson also said she knew Tracey Ferguson would not pass a background check and knew he could not work directly with children, according to state documents.
The day care's license was registered to Nyoki Lewis, and she confirmed to the state that she is responsible for payroll and did not pay Tracey Ferguson. However, documents show she filed a report with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development stating that he was a current, permanent employee who was paid 20-25 hours each week from 5 to 9 p.m.
Documents show the Angels Joy Learning Center has paid Tracey Ferguson about $5,400 since Feb. 20.
The day care was formerly called Sandbox Childcare Center and was operated by the current Center Director Angela Ferguson, but she surrendered her group child care license on Dec. 24, 2014.
According to the state, Angela Ferguson has an outstanding balance of $35,000 that the department is attempting to collect through a wage levy. Because of that, the department required that Angela Ferguson not handle finances for the center. However, documents show Lewis told licensing specialists from the state that Angela Ferguson uses the center's debit card to make purchases for the center, violating the department's stipulation agreement.
The Department of Children and Families determined Lewis also allowed Tracey Ferguson to be employed at the day care. The license revocation letter said Lewis and Angela Ferguson lied to the department when they said Tracey Ferguson only worked after hours and is not paid.
The Madison Police Department only had one complaint at Angels Joy Learning Center in 2018. In July, a parent reported that her young toddler had minor, yet unexplained visible injuries.
Police investigated and found no reason to believe the child's injuries were the result of any criminal activity.
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