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Center's director dismissed

March 16, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The Parent-Child Center's board of directors dismissed its executive director last month, causing the postponement of the annual telethon that raises money for child abuse prevention, board President Vince Dellaposta said Tuesday.

"The board just decided to do that," Dellaposta said in a telephone interview.

He said a motion was made at February's board meeting to dismiss Executive Director Millie Lowman. He said there was little discussion.

The board's bylaws state it does not have to give a reason to dismiss an employee and none was given, he said.

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Lowman did not return a phone call placed to her home on Tuesday. She also could not be reached by cell phone.

Dellaposta said he opposed Lowman's dismissal and that the vote was not unanimous.

"I was rather annoyed at the whole thing," he said. "I did everything I could to stop it."

Lowman worked as the center's executive director for eight years. She was placed on administrative leave before her dismissal, Dellaposta said.

"Somebody has to look out for the children and families that we serve," Dellaposta said. "Those who voted against her temporarily lost (sight) of that. Those of us who voted not to, we had that in mind."

Center's mission


Parent-Child Center programs include offering parenting classes and assistance for pregnant teenagers, helping families thought to be at risk for child abuse or those in which child abuse already is occurring, and working with children in the court system.

Without Lowman's leadership, Dellaposta said, the board had no choice but to postpone the telethon, which aired for years on NBC25.

"Once the board voted to dismiss her, there's just nobody to do it," Dellaposta said. "Nobody even knows how. It would be horrible, and that's not what we want to do."

The telethon was scheduled for April 16. Last year's event raised $121,000, Lowman said at the time.

Dellaposta said there has been no official vote to cancel the telethon for this year and that he considered it postponed. He said Lowman offered to organize it even after her dismissal.

"She still speaks highly of the center. The center still speaks highly of her," Dellaposta said.

If it's not held this year, he said he hopes other Parent-Child Center staff could come up with other fund-raisers.

News of Lowman's dismissal has upset at least one major financial supporter of the Parent-Child Center - the Hagerstown Exchange Club, of which Dellaposta is a member.

"I can tell you that our club ... is not real happy about it," he said.

The Hagerstown Exchange Club holds several fund-raisers a year for the center.

"We're shocked that this could happen," club member J. Michael Nye said. "We have complete confidence in her honesty and integrity, and we're going to do our best to get to the bottom of this."

"We don't think it was a fair deal for her," Hagerstown Exchange Club President Dave Walker said. "We don't feel like she got her day in court."

Dellaposta said he hoped the situation would not affect the support from the Hagerstown Exchange Club. He said that as of now there is no indication that it would, but there also is no guarantee that support would remain in the future.

He said he spoke with the Hagerstown Exchange Club and the Antietam Exchange Club, which also provides financial support, and asked that their assistance remain in place.

"The main thing is we want to make sure that we keep the services that we provide going," Dellaposta said. "I told the clubs that if they pulled their support, it would be very, very difficult."

Walker said the club contributes about $30,000 a year to the Parent-Child Center and that it doesn't plan end its support.

"At this point we stand, I think, ready to still contribute support to the Parent-Child Center," Walker said.

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