State lawmakers have passed legislation requiring day care vans to be equipped with alarms. Drivers will have to walk the rear of their vans to shut off the alarms, assuring there are no children left inside.
The bill was authored by Milwaukee Democrat, state Senator Spencer Coggs , in response to the recent death of an infant left in a day care van there. Four-month-old Jalen Knox-Perkins died after after van driver Fitz Marney picked up the child from his home April 9th, and allegedly left him inside the vehicle for five hours. “This has happened in Middleton, Janesville, Racine, it could happen anyplace, anytime,” said Coggs. “We can't legislate morality, or common sense. As you can see, human error has reared its head time and time again.”
State Senator Mike Ellis , a Neenah Republican, voted for the bill, but blasted day care managers for failing to screen irresponsible drivers. “Who would send their child there, when that same management team hires some moron, who leaves a two-month old baby setting in a van,” asked Ellis. “Let's not walk out of here today and feel like we're better off because we're putting an electronic device in it. Let's go to the heart of the matter, which is irresponsible management, irresponsible employees.”
Ellis invited Coggs to join him in drafting legislation which would require tougher background checks for day care van drivers. The bill passed the Senate and Assembly and now heads to Governor Jim Doyle for his signature.