A group that runs a Tennessee shelter for unaccompanied immigrant youth has sued the state over its decision to suspend the facility’s license after an employee was arrested following abuse allegations.
Baptiste Group filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Davidson County Chancery Court, alleging the state violated due process protections while also being improperly motivated by “bias, racial prejudice and the like” in respect to the migrant children housed at the facility. Earlier this month, the Department of Children’s Services suspended the nonprofit’s license following allegations that child abuse had occurred and a teenage boy had run away from the facility.
The 28-page lawsuit states that the state’s action “demonstrates bias and prejudice towards TBG” because the state has not taken similar actions for other agencies facing similar accusations. A spokesperson for the Department of Children’s Services said the agency was still reviewing the lawsuit and did not have any comment.
Baptiste Group has been operating as a shelter since last year after receiving a conditional license by the department. The shelter has a federal contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement to temporarily house unaccompanied migrant minors. However, earlier this month, the state suspended Baptiste Group’s license just hours after Chattanooga police arrested the female former staffer accused of kissing a minor connected to the May allegation on charges of sexual battery by an authority figure, coercion of a witness and tampering with evidence.
The department cited the abuse allegation and other issues that had plagued the shelter over the past month as reasons for the suspension. An administrative judge upheld the suspension in a closed hearing earlier this month. Baptiste Group have stated that the judge was wrong to uphold the suspension and has asked the court to overturn the ruling.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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