MARICOPA, AZ — Valley parents are demanding answers after they say a child bit their daughter eight times while at Sunrise Preschools in Maricopa.
Rocio Enriquez says when her husband Rylee Umsted went to pick up their 1-year-old daughter Mila from daycare, they found the bite marks all over her back.
"She was shaking and I knew she didn't want to be there," Umsted said.
They say it happened about twenty minutes before they picked her up, and they aren't happy with the daycare's explanation.
"She told me there were three children in the classroom including my daughter," Enriquez said. "A teacher was changing a diaper... when another child went on top of her and started biting her."
"One bite mark that you look at you'd be like, she'd be screaming bloody murder. So I want to know if someone heard a scream, where was management?" Enriquez added.
They say they were told the incident happened in about 30 seconds.
"I can't believe it until I see it," Enriquez said.
They say the incident was captured on surveillance video. The parents say Sunrise Preschools isn't letting them look at it.
"We don't know what to think because we don't know the true answer," Umsted said. "But there's a video out there that tells the truth."
They're asking to see the video and calling for changes to be made at the facility, so what happened to their child doesn't happen to another.
"Sunrise should've either had two teachers in that room or they need different training," Umsted said.
On Monday, ABC15 spoke with Lashawna Goulburne, the mother of the accused two-year-old who bit Umsted's daughter. Goulburne's child has since been expelled from Sunrise Preschool. Goulburne says she wasn't called when the incident happened, and not told that police were called for her son's actions until the next day.
"He's not at fault here," Goulburne said. "He's two, and we pay, not only me but the other family, we pay for our children to be protected and be monitored and safe."
Sunrise Preschools gave ABC15 the following statement:
"We are deeply concerned about the incident that occurred at the Sunrise Preschools Maricopa location. The safety of our children is our number one priority. Sunrise Preschools immediately provided care and assistance to the injured child. We are in contact with parents of both children involved. We are cooperating with the proper authorities and are unable to provide additional details at this time."
Hours later, Dana Vela, the President of Sunrise Preschools issued another statement saying that the caregiver who was watching the children has been suspended without pay pending further investigation.
For the full statement from President Vela, read below:
"We are truly sorry for an incident that occurred at our new center in Maricopa. Sunrise Preschools considers safety of the children in our care job one. It is our first priority. It is why we have been privileged to provide child care for more than three decades. On Thursday April 25th a toddler was bitten multiple times by another toddler during a very short timeframe. This should not have happened. Only four children were under the supervision of the caregiver watching the children. That caregiver has been suspended without pay pending further investigation.
This incident was heartbreaking and unacceptable and we are working diligently to ensure it does not happen again. We are reviewing all policies and procedures and will take whatever steps are needed to prevent this rare but serious matter from repeating itself. A video of the incident confirms the child was injured by another child very quickly and while the caregiver was changing a diaper. This is not meant to excuse the incident but to explain what happened. We can and will do better and this unfortunate matter has provided some hard learned lessons. After the child was injured first aid was administered, and the parents of the injured child were informed. The child who bit the classmate was expelled. While there is established protocol to address occasional biting behavior common to many toddlers, the severity of the incident demanded a more appropriate response.
Sunrise is following internal policies and procedures as well as licensing regulations and employment law requirements throughout the investigative process. But we are also determined to do more. We are reviewing our procedures. We are studying what happened. Additional steps are being evaluated to do everything possible to keep this from happening again. We apologize again and profusely when we fail because the trust you place in us is understood and appreciated which is why Sunrise has the outstanding reputation it has for decades in Arizona.
We are welcoming both questions and input from the community. If you have questions, concerns, or input please email me at email@example.com.
Our mission is to educate as well as care for children. In this instance Sunrise will use this unfortunate incident as a way to further educate ourselves with input from our parents and the community.
Goulburne says it's the responsibility of the caretakers to respond and intervene. The school says the incident happened very quickly and the caregiver was changing a diaper at the time the one year-old girl was bitten.
"I know that girl was screaming out in agony after that first bite. Why was she not tended to? Why was this not stopped and why was my son not redirected?" she added. "If [my son] or this little girl were choking, what would be the priority? The diaper or the choking?"
While it's the first time her son has ever bitten someone at daycare, she says he's done it at home a handful of times, but says both she and the facility say it's common for toddlers.
"It's an expected developmental behavior," said Goulburn. "That's the way that children communicate, sometimes that's the way they play, sometimes that's the way they express frustration, because they can't talk."
Goulburn says she's now looking for another daycare for her son, hoping to find one who can provide the attention her son may need.
Maricopa police tell ABC15 they're investigating.