• Day care owner accused of lying after child left in van 5 hours


    COBB COUNTY, Ga. - The owner of a local day care was arrested after authorities said she tried to cover up the fact that a child was left in a day care van for more than 5 hours.

    Dr. Melinda Hamilton, the owner and supervisor of Bright Achievers Pre-K Center, located on Jefferson Street in Austell, is accused of telling the 2-year-old’s mother that the child had only been left in the van for 15 minutes, according to a Cobb County warrant.

    "Sometimes she's still in a daze so I’m taking her back to the doctor to make sure she's okay," the girl's mother, Quantina Russell, said.

    Russell is still watching her daughter closely after learning she had spent more than five hours in a day care van on a hot day in May.

    The driver reported her clothes were soaked, her diaper wet, and that she was covered in sweat, according to a Cobb County warrant.

    When her mother demanded answers, she said she got a coverup.

    "They told me they had taken my child on a playground on a field trip and she was only left in the van for 15 minutes, and that wasn't true,” Russell told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt. “Another teacher called me and told me not to believe it."

    That tip also went in to police, who arrested Hamilton, charging her with reckless conduct, false statements and tampering with evidence.

    An arrest warrant claims Hamilton tried to get workers to erase video from cameras pointing at the daycare vans, write a false report on the incident, and tell parents the 2-year-old was only unaccounted for 15 minutes.

    Investigators said they believe the child was actually in the van for closer to 6 hours, just feet away from a sign promoting a state program to discourage leaving kids in hot vehicles.

    "I think it was very appropriate. She deserves what she gets,” the girl’s father, Jerry Emile, said. “She just tried to hide it, tried to tell the staff how she was going to hide that.”

    On June 9, the lawyer for Bright Achievers Pre-K in Austell confirmed to Channel 2 Action News he will file an appeal of the state’s intention to revoke its license.  That sets up a hearing with an administrative judge.  The hearing has not yet been scheduled.  

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