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'We are going up against a lot of parents' | CA shuts down Christian Preschool for violating mask mandate

Foothills Christian Church Preschool claims to be targeted and harassed by California regulators.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Upset parents rallied outside Foothills Christian Church Preschool Friday morning after the Department of Social Services shut the preschool down for violating the state’s mask mandate.

Church officials, including preschool director Tiffany McHugh, State Senator Brian Jones, and El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells spoke about the school’s closure.

The California Dept. of Social Services Community Care Licensing shut the doors of the preschool on Dec. 10, 2021 after many visits to the school.

McHugh says visits from Social Services started in September 2021 after a parent complaint.

“From that point on we were working with licensing almost on a weekly basis over the next two months and we were trying to improve,” said McHugh. “Unfortunately, it's really hard. We are going up against a lot of parents that don't want their children to be masked,”

McHugh said in November 2021 the preschool was cleared of the violation but a couple weeks later the state came back for a routine visit to find kids once again, not wearing masks.

“We were going to continue working on it but three days later they came in and shut us down,” said McHugh. 

The CBS 8 News team reached out to the Department of Social Services for a response.

They directed us to legal documents stating that both Foothills Ministries and McHugh regularly failed to ensure all employees wore a mask while indoors and failed to encourage students two-years-old and older to wear a mask.

The allegations also state McHugh prevented licensing from inspecting the facility, allowing employees and students to put on masks which created a false impression.

“Tiffany McHugh is a wonderful director. We feel our children are safe in her care,” said John McGovern.

In addition to the preschool shutdown, Social Services has taken away McHugh’s ability to ever work in childcare again.

Foothills Christian Church has appealed the suspension of their license. That appeal is scheduled for January 14.

WATCH RELATED: Dozens of city employees receive advance firing notices over vaccine mandate (January 2022)

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