Tom discusses day care death case


DALLAS - More than four years after a little boy died in a hot Dallas day care van, the civil case is nearing trial.

It was in 2006 when 4-year-old Jacob Fox died of a heatstroke in the van. Avonda Fox, his mother, said the day care should have been shut down before that because it had 91 compliance deficiencies. Fox is suing 12 state licensing workers; the trial is set for April.

“Jacob's death definitely should not have happened, and it could have been prevented,” she said.

A day care's director is supposed to ensure rules are followed, but when Fox's attorney, Tom McKenzie, interviewed the man records listed as the Dream House Learning Center's director, he discovered the man was a public school teacher.

“He sat there and told me he was never the director,” McKenzie said.

The state now requires licensing workers to meet with a day care's director during visits.

Fox said she later learned the day care owners' record included arrests for theft and assault. Two other employees’ records include prostitution and drugs. Legally, however, those crimes would not have automatically prevented employment in a day care.

Fox mourns the future that should have been.

“Words cannot describe the pain," she said.

She is, however, building a new life. Fox has given birth to two sons since Jacob's death. Her 3-year-old looks just like him.

“He'll see a picture and say, 'Oh mom, that's me,'" Fox said.

On those occasions, Fox tells her son, “He’s in heaven; he’s with God.”

Scrutiny of day cares with serious transportation citations has increased since Fox's death. A state spokesman said that and other changes are working to keep children safe.


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