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Clermont day care withdraws appeal of order to close
Owner, daughter arrested in burned toddler case
Sue Dupree
Sue Dupree

Authorities have charged the owner and site director of the Clermont day care where a 16-month-old toddler was allegedly burned, and the day care withdrew its appeal of an order to close.

Discovering Basics owner Minnie “Sue” Dupree, 66, and site director Tara Miller, 40, both of Gainesville, were arrested Monday by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office after further investigation into the burning of Damon Gaddis, a child at the day care. Miller is the daughter of Dupree.

A teacher at Discovering Basics, Eddye Pittmon, 55, of Talmo was arrested Friday and charged with cruelty to children in the first degree.

Dupree was charged with influencing testimony, having allegedly told employees to destroy evidence. According to the warrant, Dupree allegedly used intimidation to get an employee to “alter, delete and conceal photographs of the injuries.”

Miller was charged with child cruelty in the second degree, allegedly having knowledge of the child’s injury and not seeking medical treatment for him. Miller also allegedly applied topical ointments to Gaddis’ skin and failed to contact the toddler’s mother for approximately five hours, according to the warrant.

Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Deputy Nicole Bailes said investigators do not know what caused the burns to Damon, but all indications are it was a water burn.

The Department of Early Care and Learning issued an intended closure order Friday, claiming the children at Discovering Basics were facing an “imminent danger.” Discovering Basics was given 48 hours from the time of the notice to appeal to keep the center open.

While that appeal was filed, it was withdrawn late Tuesday, said Reg Griffin, DECAL’s chief communications officer, in an email to The Times.

With Discovering Basic’s withdrawal of its appeal, DECAL’s emergency closure of Discovering Basics will become effective this morning, and the center will be required to remain closed for 21 days, Girffin said.

During those 21 days, DECAL will investigate further. Possible “adverse action” to come as a result of the investigation, Griffin said, includes technical assistance, fines, provisional licensing and revocation of license.

“They have the right to reapply, but a license revocation is serious enough that it takes away your ability to operate a child care program in Georgia for one year,” he said.

If Discovering Basics’ license were to be revoked, the day care has the right to appeal, Griffin said.

Discovering Basics was closed Tuesday afternoon, and a sign was taped to the window for parents.

“We will be closed for the rest of the week,” the notice read. “Please follow us on Facebook to further notice as to when we will open.”

Dupree’s signature was at the bottom of the note.

DECAL had people monitoring the day care Monday and planned to continue Tuesday, but the department was notified by the day care about its intent to stay closed for the rest of the week.

“What we do in a case like this is just continue to go by and confirm that they will continue to be closed,” said Reg Griffin, chief communications officer for DECAL. “And if they were to reopen, we would just place monitors back there again.”

Pittmon on Monday waived a hearing of the evidence against her, advancing her case to Superior Court. She will remain in custody until her bond hearing Thursday. Pittmon’s lawyer, Troy Millikan, said the delay in a bond hearing is not the norm in these cases.

Jim Walters, the attorney for Dupree, could not immediately be reached.

The investigation is ongoing, but Bailes said “there’s going to be no additional arrests that we know at this point.”