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Annie Lois Lowe, Orange County
From 1974 through 1998, Annie Lois Lowe had a "significant criminal history" in Orange County that included a weapons offense, aggravated assault, grand theft, grand larceny, public-assistance fraud and cocaine delivery. In all, she had eight disqualifying offenses, had spent 18 months in prison and admitted to selling and using drugs for 15 to 20 years.
Yet in 2004, she applied to open a home-based child-care business and signed an application saying she had not been convicted of certain crimes, including aggravated battery and felony drug offenses.
Florida's Department of Children & Families denied her exemption in 2005, but she appealed.
The hearing officer in the case noted that, by lying on her application, Lowe had not demonstrated that she had been rehabilitated in matters of honesty and integrity. But because there was no evidence of drug use since 1998, he granted her exemption.
Still, DCF held firm to its decision. Because the hearing officer's recommendation wasn't binding, the agency once again notified Lowe that she would not be granted an exemption to work with children.
Despite all that, Lowe said on an appeal form that she had been working in child care and as a teacher for six years at several day-care centers and that she took care of children at her church without incident. Since her last offense, she had earned her GED and was taking college classes.
In June 2006, DCF sent a letter to Galaxy of Learning, the most recent day-care center on record for employing Lowe, telling Galaxy to "remove the individual from a position of special trust immediately" and citing the cases of assault, aggravated assault, grand theft and delivery of cocaine.
Galaxy then dismissed her.