COLUMBIA, Md. — Two parents have filed a complaint against Columbia Academy for failure to provide adequate supervision of their toddler who wandered into a busy roadway, causing cars to slam on brakes and swerve during rush hour traffic to avoid hitting him.
According to the complaint, on December 30, 2019, between 9 a.m. and 9:40 a.m., the toddler was allowed to wander from the school unnoticed by pushing open double doors at the front entrance.
The toddler, who was without a coat or jacket became disoriented and lost, wandering through the office complex and parking lot before making his way onto Old Columbia Road.
Vehicles then began to swerve around the boy before Syndnei Earnest, a manager for a store down the road gazed out the window and noticed the young child walking aimlessly on the busy roadway.
The complaint states that Earnest sprung into action, running from her building to rescue the toddler from oncoming traffic while also risking her own life.
Police were then called to the scene and it was learned that the child's parents were not notified of his missing from preschool for over an hour. The complaint continues, stating they learned the boy was allowed to walk out of the building without anyone monitoring the exits.
“When I got there the officer said I don’t want to make this worse for you than it already is, but the cars were swerving around him in the road,” the boys mother Medricka Law-Womack.
The Womack's said police were able to identify him and get a hold of them because of his medical bracelet for his allergies.
They said they didn't get a call from the school until after they talked to police and they couldn't believe what they heard.
"The director stated her name and said by any chance did you come pick Miles up? My initial response was no Howard County Police has him and were on the way to get him now and I disconnected the call," she said.
According to the complaint, "a search of public records on file with the Department of Education, Division of Early Childhood Education, revealed that Columbia Academy, LLC., has a prior history of allegedly failing to ensure that its children receive adequate supervision and care that is appropriate to their individual age, needs and capabilities -- at all times."
After reaching out to Columbia Academy, the owner, Tom Kincaid, emailed the following statement:
"On December 30th, a child under the care of our school, Columbia Academy in Kings Contrivance, was able to exit the school building and campus. The child wandered for a period of time until he was assisted by a concerned local business employee. The owners and staff at Columbia Academy are extremely distressed that this was able to happen. We are relieved that the child was unharmed and safely returned to the parents.
The safety of the children entrusted to us is our first priority. Policies and procedures are in place to ensure the children’s safety. We are continuing to investigate how this incident occurred and ways to prevent it from happening again.
We are incredibly thankful for the love and support we have received from parents and staff. Columbia Academy will continue to be committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for the children entrusted to us."
Most recently, the Academy was cited for in May 2019 for leaving a wandering toddler alone and unsupervised at their Fulton location.
The attorney for the family says this goes beyond negligence.
“We’re even wondering whether or not they even know the child was missing. That’s just the height of negligence. If there was ever such a thing as gross negligence this would be it.”
The parents said they will find it hard to trust anyone with their kids agian and their son has shown noticeable changes since the traumatic experience.
“He doesn’t want to go anywhere without us. His sleeping pattern. He’s getting up every 2-3 hours at night and coming into our room wanting to be with us,“ Tim Womack said.