New Managers Reopen Center Shut by Child-Abuse Charges

Times Staff Writer

An Ocean Beach preschool, closed after state child-abuse allegations against its owners, reopened Monday under new management.

Only half of the 80 children who were enrolled at the Loma Alta preschool and nursery before the charges returned there Monday, said W. James Bumiller, the school's new operator. "There has been considerable damage done to the school," Bumiller said.

Bumiller and his wife, Elvina, took over the school from Lewis and Jeanne Sasaran after the state Department of Social Services accused the couple of molesting a 3-year-old girl in their care. In an arrangement approved by the state, the Sasarans remain owners of the school but are barred from the property.

The Bumillers, who run three other preschools in San Diego County, obtained a new license to operate Loma Alta after parents complained that the school's closing left them without daytime child care. If the Sasarans do not appeal the revocation of their license or lose an appeal, the Bumillers will take over the school permanently, James Bumiller said.

Bowing to the wishes of the parents, state officials approved Bumiller's license in one day, short-cutting what they said was normally a three-month process. They also promised the couple that their 90-day temporary license soon will be replaced with a permanent one, James Bumiller said.

In a statement addressed to the media and posted on the preschool's gate Monday morning, the Bumillers asked to be left alone: "The life and times of this school are no longer newsworthy. . . . The children now deserve to be in a normal, calm environment so they can get back to the business of learning and growing."

The Sasarans, meanwhile, could face other problems. San Diego police have passed the results of a criminal investigation into the child-abuse charges to the district attorney's office. A spokeswoman there said no decision has been made on the question of prosecuting the couple.

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