Update: D.C. day care inspector charged with accepting illegal gratuities

Updated to reflect response of day care owner.

By Scott McCabe

A District of Columbia child care inspector has been charged with accepting $2,000 from the owner of a day care to help keep the children’s center open, according to federal court documents.

Calvin N. Smith, of Lanham, an inspector with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, was charged last week by information, which typically means that a plea deal is in the works.

Smith was responsible for the inspection and licensing of child care facilities in the District of Columbia. He also reviewed immunization records, staff credentials, and ran criminal background checks.

According to documents, in March 2009, Smith inspected Tucker’s Day Care Center, at 3215 11th Place SE, and allegedly found more than 20 staff and facility infractions. He issued a statement of deficiencies demanding the problems be fixed within 30 days.

The court document doesn’t describe the violations. Smith found that the problems were fixed by June 2009, enabling Tucker’s to remain a licensed child care development center in D.C., documents said.

Two months later, the owner of the day care issued Smith a check for $2,000 after he asked for a loan “because defendant Calvin Smith had assisted TDC in resolving deficiencies” that had been noted in his report, court documents state.

Bertha Tucker, the owner of the day care, said she loaned the money to Smith so he could go on a family vacation, not because he helped resolve the deficiencies.

“I’ve never got 20 deficiencies in my 23 years in business,” Tucker told D.C. Crime Stories. “That would make me a terrible day care owner.”

A spokesperson with the OSSE could not be immediately reached Monday.