State cites child-care owner carrying gun By Robert Annis Robert.Annis@Topics.com CARMEL, Ind. -- The state's Family and Social Services Administration cited the co-owner of a local child day-care center with carrying a concealed firearm at the facility. Richard Lyday, co-owner of Heartland Hall Child Development Center, 11540 N. Meridian St., told FSSA investigators that he carried the weapon for personal protection and to provide security for the children. Approximately 240 children are enrolled in the day-care program at Heartland Hall, according to Lyday. Heartland Hall is licensed by the FSSA as a child day-care center, said Dennis Rosebrough, FSSA communications director. The firearm citation carries no fine or punishment, he said. However, day-care centers must correct issues revealed in citations or face the possiblity of closure. Rosebrough said it was the first instance that he's aware of where an Indiana child-care center owner or employee received a citation for carrying a gun at a day-care center. After receiving the citation Feb. 2, Lyday immediately removed the firearm from the center, according to state documents. Lyday, a retired information systems executive, works full-time at Heartland Hall with his co-owner wife, Sally Lyday. "The sole reason I have possessed a firearm is for the protection of the children who are entrusted to us everyday," Richard Lyday said in an e-mail. "We have been fortunate to have maintained an excellent and stable clientele," he said. "Having said that, it is conceivable, although unlikely, that an individual could present himself who could pose a risk for the children. Before possessing a gun on the premises, I satisfied myself that I am within my rights to carry a gun on school property . . ." Lyday has a valid permit for the gun, said Lori DeWeese, licensing consultant for FSSA. Joyce McComiskey, business manager at Peter Rabbit Nursery School in Carmel, said firearms are not allowed at state-licensed preschools. She said most reputable facilities provide adequate security without staff members carrying weapons. "It's dangerous and against state code," she said. Edward Sehrager, Lyday's attorney, said in a letter to FSSA that his client was within his rights to have a gun on the premises, citing Indiana code pertaining to schools. FSSA countered that Heartland Hall is not licensed as a school, but as a child day-care center. Indiana law prohibits the use or possession of firearms at a child-care center unless the person is required to as a condition of employment, Rosebrough said. Sehrager and FSSA attorneys are deliberating whether Lyday's job description includes acting as a security guard, Rosebrough said. "It's a serious issue we're giving a lot of attention to," he said. "We want to make sure our licensed centers are safe for children." Rosebrough said FSSA field inspectors could perform surprise inspections of Heartland Hall to ensure Lyday is complying with the order not to carry a firearm.