State officials have issued a cease and desist order against a school that took first and second-grade students on a field trip to a gun range.
An investigation was launched into the Holdheide Academy on Old Highway 5 in Woodstock, Ga. last week after pictures spread on social media showing young child at a gun range. The school itself apparently posted the pictures on its own Facebook page, but that post has since been removed.
In a statement to 11Alive, Holdheide Academy defended the trip. Owner Tammy Dorsten said that they took a first- and second-grader to Hi-Caliber firearms to see relics from Annie Oakley, an American sharpshooter from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
"The field trip began with a safety class on what to do if the students ever saw these types of artifacts outside of the cases that they were in, or without an adult present," Dorsten said. "The students were able to see the distances that Annie Oakley used when selecting her targets and the presentation made it very clear why Annie Oakley was a famous individual and someone whom we are still learning about over 123 years later."
According to Dorsten, the students' parents were told about the trip and had signed permission slips the week before it happened.
"This was a wonderful educational experience for our students," Dorsten said. "Annie Oakley is a part of our Georgia Approved curriculum encompassing Annie Oakley, Davy Crockett and Pecos Bill. Our goal was to show the students how difficult it was for Annie Oakley and others to accomplish all that they did."
On Monday, Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Commissioner Amy Jacobs said the facility is a licensed child care program that operates a private school of grades kindergarten through second grade. During their investigation, they discovered that the program "was caring for pre-school aged children in an unlicensed space meant for a private school."
Ga. DECAL issued the cease and desist order for that part of the program.
"Our investigation continues into the licensed child care program," Jacobs said.
According to its Facebook page, "Holdheide Academy is a preparatory, modern Montessori preschool for children ages 6 weeks through 5 years."
The school states on its website, "Holdheide Academy was founded in order to teach children in the manner that they deserve to be taught: a way that would allow them to wonder, guess, ask questions, experiment, figure things out, and practice to become effective deductive reasoners, amazing critical thinkers and the world leaders that America so desperately needs."