Laurel Police believe three Princeton Day Academy students were living inside a room at the Laurel Boys and Girls Club, which is housed in the 100-year-old brick Phelps Center on Montgomery Street, according to Laurel city spokesman Pete Piringer.
The three students, who Piringer said were around 18 years old, were discovered on Monday around 3 a.m. after Laurel Police officers conducting a routine patrol noticed a door to the center was propped open, Piringer said.
Piringer said police believed that the students were there with permission, and were temporarily living in a room off the building's gymnasium. He said Friday that the students are no longer living in the building.
Levet Brown, president of the Laurel Boys and Girls Club, denied that the students were living inside the club, and said the room is used as a lounge for players on Princeton Day Academy's prep and high school basketball teams.
"There is no truth to any kids living in that building," Brown said.
According to its website, the Princeton Day Academy is an all-digital Christian high school that works to get students accepted into college. It lists the Phelps Center, at 701 Montgomery St., as the school's address and says it is accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), a division of AdvancED. Its basketball team competes in the Capital Beltway Athletic Association, and plays home games at the Laurel Boys and Girls Club gym.
Brown said the school utilizes the building's annex as a classroom.
Brown said, on the morning of the incident, police officers discovered three Princeton Day Academy student-athletes playing basketball inside the center's gymnasium. He said one of the students is an 18-year-old Baltimore resident, and the other two are 19-year-olds from Lithuania who had previously lived in a house Princeton Day Academy rented, but are now living in Brown's Laurel home until they return to Lithuania in March. Brown said the students plan to enroll at satellite campuses at Pennsylvania State University to play basketball.
According to Brown, the three students were spending the night at the facility before attending school the next morning.
While Brown denied students live inside the building, he said occasionally some players spend the night at the facility before the team departs on trips to out-of-state tournaments.
In those instances, the players sleep in the building's annex, which Brown said has a kitchen and living quarters, or other parts of the center.
While investigating the incident, Piringer said police discovered numerous code enforcement issues related to the room's heating and ventilation, including propane and kerosene heaters being used to heat the gym and several extension cords used with portable electric heaters, and that the building was without heat.
As a result, the club was issued a notice of violation by Laurel Fire Marshal Dave Cope and a correction order by city building inspector John Chenault.
Piringer said Cope cleared the club of all violations he had issued after a follow up investigation on Thursday.
Piringer added that the school is also not authorized to use the annex of the facility as a classroom, but the city is "working with" the club to get the school a special exception to hold class in the annex.
Laurel Leader editor Melanie Dzwonchyk contributed to this report