Foster parent faces felony neglect, abuse charges after infant’s alcohol poisoning

The News & Observer

The former president of the Northern Orange NAACP has been charged with felony neglect child abuse after a 5-month-old in her care nearly died from alcohol poisoning.

On Tuesday, LaTarndra Strong, 55, was arrested by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, according to court documents obtained by The News & Observer.

Her arrest warrant alleges that on March 18, she made a bottle for a 5-month-old baby that contained alcohol, then left the baby in the care of “adults who were not physically or mentally capable of providing emergency care to the baby.”

The warrant also alleges that these adults failed to call 911 when the baby became unresponsive and stopped breathing.

Two days later, on March 20, Strong abruptly resigned from her role as president of the Northern Orange NAACP citing “personal reasons” and “family matters” as the reason for her departure, according to current president Matt Hughes.

Hughes told The N&O that Strong’s resignation came as a surprise since she had only taken office a few months prior.

In addition to his role at the NAACP, Hughes is also the president of the Orange County Partnership for Young Children — where Strong sits on the board.

Hughes said he is looking into the charges and cannot publicly comment on Strong’s position.

‘A foster parent to many children’

In 2020, Strong ran for the Orange County School Board. According to her campaign’s Facebook page, Strong has been “a foster parent to many children.”

Hughes said he was aware that Strong fostered a child earlier this year but could not confirm if that child is the same one in this case.

Court records listed Strong’s current employer as the Hate-Free Schools Coalition, an anti-hate advocacy group she founded in the Orange County school system.

In 2021, Strong and her organization spoke out against Proud Boy members at a school board meeting who opposed a resolution that protected students from “incidents of hostile and racist behavior.”

“You listened to the pain in their hearts of students of color, of LGBTQ students, of students who would not have been accepted at that rally. You listened to the children who frequently have no voice,” Strong told the school board at the time.

Strong has received several accolades in recent years for her work. In 2017, she was named “Newsmaker of the Year” by the Triangle Tribune. On March 17, 2020, she was named a Hometown Hero by Chapelboro for her work with Hate-Free Schools.

The News & Observer reached out to Strong and the Hate-Free Schools Coalition for comment and has not yet heard back.

Strong’s bond was set at $10,000. She is expected to reappear in Orange County Court in late October.