Parents left scrambling after vandal strikes Fargo child care centerFARGO – Parents of about 50 toddlers and infants scrambled to find child care this morning after a Fargo day care center was vandalized overnight, forcing part of the building to close.
By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM
FARGO – Parents of about 50 toddlers and infants scrambled to find child care this morning after a Fargo day care center was vandalized overnight, forcing part of the building to close.
The vandal, who was caught on surveillance video, broke six window panes and emptied a fire extinguisher at Fraser Ltd., 2902 S. University Drive, said Sandra Leyland, executive director.
The center closed its two toddler classrooms and an infant room for the day so crews could board up windows and clean up the broken glass and powdery extinguisher agent from tables, chairs, carpet and toys, Leyland said.
She said the vandal in the video appeared to be a male, but no one at the center recognized him.
“We have no reason to believe it was anything other than a random act of destruction and vandalism,” she said.
Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel said investigators were reviewing the video and also looking into whether a broken door discovered at a dental office next door may be related.
The Fraser building houses the child care center, a youth center and business offices.
Children usually start arriving at 6 a.m., and staff began contacting parents at 5:30 a.m. today about the closure, Leyland said.
“With all the floods over the last few years, we’ve got a pretty good system down for notifying people,” she said.
Sara Whitney, who takes her 2-year-old son, Michael, to the center, said she received a text message at 6:30 a.m. about the closure.
“You kind of have to scramble because not everybody has the leave time and stuff, and things can’t be rescheduled,” she said. “And when you have a toddler, sick time is gold.”
Whitney said she was fortunate to be able to get the day off from her teaching job. She agreed to take care of two other Fraser 2-year-olds and a 6-month-old whose parents were stuck in the same predicament.
“I don’t know if I’m ready for it,” she said, laughing.
Fraser officials did “a great job” notifying parents, said Whitney, who struggled to make sense of what happened.
“It’s really unfortunate,” she said. “It makes me wonder who would break into a day care. Like, is someone scorned from finger painting gone wrong as a youth or what?”
“I don’t know why this person would do this to the day care, but clearly I don’t think they thought about all the repercussions … and all the people who are put out by this,” she added.
It’s unclear how the vandal got into the building, but he didn’t stay long, fleeing when the fire extinguisher apparently set off the fire alarm around 11:30 p.m., Leyland said.
Nothing was missing, even though the vandal had access to other areas of the building, she said, leaving her to believe vandalism was the sole motive.
“Just meanness,” she said, noting this is the center’s first vandalism incident since opening about 15 years ago. “Why you do that to a child care center, I’m not quite sure.”
Leyland said insurance should cover the damage, which she estimated to be in the thousands of dollars.
A Fraser official said Tuesday afternoon that the center is expected to be fully open again by Wednesday morning.
Whitney said that while parents were put out, “the people that are really taking the hit are the kids.
“That’s their classroom and their toys,” she said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528
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