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Center administrator mum on incident

August 07, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

The administrator of a private child-care program at Eastern Elementary School refused to comment Tuesday on two 6-year-old boys who walked away from the program last week.

Matthew Eaton and Kevin Griffin were three-fourths of a mile from the school and walking down Dual Highway on Friday morning when they were picked up by a stranger who took them to the Hagerstown City Police station.

When a police officer notified staff at School-Age Child Care that the two boys had left the school and were at the police station, "they said they knew the boys were gone but they had not notified police," Police Lt. Margaret Kline said Monday.

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Reached at Eastern Elementary on Tuesday, School-Age Child Care Administrator Dee Snyder would not comment on the matter.

A woman who answered the School-Age Child Care telephone at Eastern Elementary on Tuesday said they had "no comments at this time."

The woman, who would not give her name, said they were "busy working on our own investigation."

A spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, which oversees the licensing of child-care centers in the state, has said the department is investigating the Friday incident.

The department has the power to suspend or revoke a child-care license.

School-Age Child Care is one of several organizations that pays the public school system to use space at the schools for before- and after school child care, as well as for a summer program.

School-Age Child Care operates in at least 12 elementary schools in Washington County, schools Director of Facilities Management Dennis McGee said.

Kevin's mother, Sharon Belair, and Jennifer Eaton said their sons told them they decided to leave the school because they were in trouble for not picking up some toys fast enough.

The two boys went to wash their hands, and instead of returning to their group went out the back door, Belair said.

They wanted to go to a playground, but were lost once they passed Pizza Hut, Belair said.

The boys walked west on Dual Highway. They stopped in a store to ask for change to make a phone call, but then ran away, she said.

William Foster was driving down Dual Highway when he saw the boys. He stopped near the intersection of Cornell Avenue and Dual Highway and spoke with them. The boys said they were lost, so Foster told them to get in his car and he took them to the police station.

The boys arrived at the police station at about 8:45 a.m., Kline said.

Eaton said her son told her they left the school on Yale Drive about 15 minutes after she dropped him off at 7:30 a.m.

After finding out where the boys were supposed to be, police contacted the School-Age Child Care staff at Eastern Elementary, Kline said.

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