Dodge day care operator faces charges

An Eastman home-based day care operator was charged with five counts of reckless conduct in August after five children were removed from her day care without parental consent, authorities said.

Sandra Harvey, who was licensed to care for six children for pay at her home on Jim Pruitt Road, had 17 children at her home on Aug. 17, Dodge County sheriff’s Capt. Tony Winborn said. When an inspector arrived from the state Department of Early Care and Learning, which regulates day cares, a helper at the day care loaded five of the children into a car and took them to a home elsewhere, according to an incident report in the case.

The state inspector called the sheriff’s department, Winborn said. He said Harvey initially lied to the inspector and the deputy about where the children were.

“Parents began to show up and their kids were not there,” Winborn said, adding that the children were all toddlers. “One particular mother was extremely upset.”

Harvey was charged with five misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct causing harm to or endangering the bodily safety of another.

The state Department of Early Care and Learning, also called Bright from the Start, is still investigating the incident, said Stacey Moore, its public relations director. The department will release no details about what happened until its investigation is complete, she said.

A licensing study conducted by the agency July 7 found Harvey in violation for caring for 10 children for pay.

The state inspector required her to correct the over-enrollment problem the same day, according to the report.

Harvey declined to speak about the incident or the charges against her.

Moore said Harvey can continue to care for children. Usually, day cares continue to operate during Bright from the Start investigations unless certain types of felonies have been committed. If the state concludes that a serious violation occurred, Bright from the Start may fine the day care operator or revoke the license to operate. The owner would be given the opportunity to appeal the decision and request a hearing.

In June, Jones County day care operator Lavern Stubbs was charged with four counts of reckless conduct after a similar incident at Kids University Childcare Learning Center, according to the state’s findings and a report from the Jones County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Bright from the Start, Stubbs tried to hide four school-aged children when a state day care inspector arrived because she was keeping more children than her license allowed. When the inspector found the children, Stubbs repeatedly denied that they were in her care, first sending them walking down a busy highway alone, then releasing them to a person who was a stranger to the children and their parents.

Stubbs has appealed her day care license revocation, and a hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21, Moore said.

To contact writer S. Heather Duncan, call 744-4225.