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Oconee Preschool Thanks Athens-Clarke Police for Spotting Abducted Child

A Watkinsville mother is accused of removing her child from Oconee Preschool Academy without permission on Jan. 30. The school issued a statement about the incident Friday.

Below is a statement from Flo Wilkes, owner of Oconee Preschool Academy, regarding a child who was taken from the school this week by a noncustodial parent. The parent was stopped on Milledge Avenue a couple of hours later by Athens-Clarke County police.

In a Facebook post, the Oconee County Sheriff's Office says the statement "is 100% consistent with the findings of our investigation. We are not at liberty to discuss the custody arrangement of the child."

At approximately 4:45 p.m. on January 30, 2013, a non-custodial parent entered Oconee Preschool Academy (OPA) on Mars Hill Road to pick up her 5 year old child. As soon as Nikki Wright, OPA Director, saw the parent enter the building, she immediately attempted to contact the custodial parent.

Although the non-custodial parent was aware a security code was required to enter the secure corridor door, the parent entered when another family was exiting. The child’s OPA teacher was aware that the custodial parent had given permission to the non-custodial parent several times to pick up the child, but as an added precaution, the teacher phoned the Director to verify as soon as the parent and child left the room.

While the Director was on the phone with the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent and child walked through reception area where the Director told the parent not to leave with the child. The parent then grabbed her child’s arm and pulled her out the door. The Director ran after them, but did not physically try to stop them.

The Director called 911 immediately. The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, C. Evans, arrived at OPA within minutes and placed a “Child Abduction Alert” to all area law enforcement.

Oconee Preschool Academy is cooperating fully with Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation, including releasing of video from CCTV of entire incident. For the child’s sake, Oconee Preschool regrets the events that occurred there on January 30, 2013. All procedures were followed correctly according to Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning rules and regulations.

Fortunately, within two hours, Athens-Clarke Co. Police Department found and stopped the vehicle occupied by the non-custodial parent and child. The child was found safe and non-custodial parent was taken into custody.

Oconee Preschool would like to thank Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and Athens-Clarke Co. Police for their prompt response and safe return of this child.

Flo Wilkes Owner

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