School where boy was left in van had license revoked in 2007

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Mike Watkiss

Posted on August 12, 2011 at 7:04 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 12 at 3:00 PM

PHOENIX – The school where a 6-year-old boy with Down syndrome was left in a hot van has been in serious trouble before.

Tanner McCarty has been going to a summer school program for children with developmental disabilities. He was allegedly picked up Wednesday afternoon by his school bus driver and taken to Quest Alliance.

When Tanner’s mom, Tracy Roberts, showed up several hours later to pick up her son, he was not at the school. He had been left in the van out in the 105-degree heat.

Tanner was taken to the hospital and treated for dehydration. He’s home and doing well.

Although no arrests have been made and no charges filed, Roberts wants Quest Alliance held criminally responsible. Tanner’s parents are considering a civil lawsuit.

This is not the first time Quest Alliance has had a serious problem involving a child in its care.

The facility lost its license in 2007 after an autistic boy wandered away from a different Quest Alliance location. This one was at a church near 65th Avenue and Indian School Road. Jayson Allen, 8, drowned in a nearby canal.

Immediately after Jayson’s death, the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Division of Developmental Disabilities pulled Quest Alliance’s license. The facility was reinstated several months later after complying with the terms set out in a corrective plan put together by state officials.

Despite the incident with Tanner, Quest Alliance is still operating as usual. The state says it will not take any action until it has the results of the police investigation.

Tanner’s parents want the state to revoke Quest Alliance’s license and close the facility.

"I trusted these people and they almost killed my son," Roberts said. "I'm very angry. ...  I think they were negligent."

"I'm glad I didn't pick him up because I'd probably be in jail right now," said Dave McCarty, Tanner's father. "I don't understand how you leave a child -- any child, any person, a dog, an animal -- in a vehicle in Phoenix."

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office will determine if any criminal charges will be filed.

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