Chapel Hill preschool teacher facing indecent liberties charges

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — A Chapel Hill man who’s a part-time teacher at a preschool and kindergarten in Chapel Hill is facing multiple indecent liberties charges, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office announced.

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The Orange County Sheriff’s Office received a report from Our PlayHouse Preschool and Kindergarten, located at 3501 Highway 54 West in Chapel Hill, that alleged “inappropriate conduct involving a part-time teacher and a child,” authorities said. That report was filed July 7.

The sheriff’s office began an investigation and it was determined that the alleged incidents occurred at the school’s summer camp between June 12 and June 19.

Philip Anthony Thomas was arrested at his home at 250 Amberwood Run around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and charged with two counts of indecent liberties with a student.

Thomas is being held at the Orange County Detention Center under a $20,000 secured bond. His first court appearance is set for Thursday in Hillsborough.

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and more charges are possible. Thomas has been previously employed at other early childhood development programs and agencies.

“At this particular facility I know that he worked there for about two years,” Investigator Dawn Hunter, Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.

One parent recalled hearing the news.

“A lot of anxiety, worry. I immediately had the conversation with both my kids to see if they had any interaction with him at all,” Ingrid McCausland, a parent whose children attended the summer camp said.

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North Carolina law requires the following requirements for anyone who provides child care, part time or full time:

    • A criminal background check. It includes state and federal fingerprinting, the sex offender registry, and court databases.
    • In-service training hours. These must be completed and documented annually.
    • A DHHS qualification letter

Day cares are required to keep this documentation.

DHHS told CBS North Carolina Our PlayHouse in Chapel Hill is not licensed by the health department, but they are not required to be.

Danielle Sunde, founder of Our PlayHouse, said in an email to CBS North Carolina,”Please note that Our PlayHouse is currently registered with the NC Division of Non-Public Education and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Therefore, it is not required to be licensed as it is operating under one of the many exemptions allowed under North Carolina General Statute 110-86(2)(f).”

The day care owner operates a center in Durham under the same name that is licensed by the health department.

CBS North Carolina Investigates pulled the records for the Durham facility and found that on at least four occasions, the state has inspected the facility and issued violations for staff not having the required number of in-service training hours.

Anyone with information related to the crimes should contact investigator D. Hunter at (919) 245-2915.

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