PLEASANTON -- Police have launched a criminal investigation into a Pleasanton preschool after a former employee allegedly tied up a 2-year-old girl for refusing to take her nap, then later showed off photos to other teachers, including the child's mother.

A complaint filed March 5 with the Department of Social Services alleges that a former teacher of Centerpointe Christian Preschool bound the child's wrists and ankles with masking tape, then made her sit on a cot while she took a photograph.

According to a church statement, nobody knew about the incident until months later, when the employee pulled out her cellphone at a social gathering earlier this month and showed photos of the child to two current staff members. One of the teachers who viewed the photo was the mother of the child in the photograph.

"We are appalled and shocked that such an incident, if proven to be true, took place. Every human person made in the image of God, all of the children in our care, deserve the highest degree of respect and protection from any action that dehumanizes them," said Pastor Mike Barris.

The incident was reported to police by the parent March 4, and a complaint was filed with the Department of Social Services the following day. According to the complaint, the exact date of the incident is unknown.

The Pleasanton Police Department is launching a criminal investigation into the case, and investigators have interviewed members of the school staff.


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"We're still in the beginning stages of finding out what is going on," said Pleasanton police Sgt. Kurt Schlehuber. "The allegation is against one teacher, and we're going to look at if there are any others involved."

According to Schlehuber, the 2-year-old victim is the only reported case at this time.

The school has taken action by means of informing parents of the violation as required by the licensing agency, sending a detailed letter to families of preschool-aged children and holding a parents-only meeting Tuesday night to answer questions. The school will also suspend preschool classes for five days, beginning Friday, while the staff undergoes intensive training and outside experts are brought in to help analyze procedure.

"We are cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation and the legal outcome is unknown," said Tim Hunt, a church elder, in a statement Monday. "We want to be very clear that no currently employed staff were involved in this incident. The former preschool director had no knowledge of this event until we informed him after we were notified."

The school received four other Class A violations in the five months before the complaint filed Thursday, two which involved teachers leaving out bottles with a bleach solution and two which involved improper supervision of children in two classrooms. Corrective action was taken in each instance and staff received additional training. Regular preschool operations will resume March 20.

"... we will not continue to operate a preschool that is less than God's best for the children we serve," said elders at the church in a statement to the congregation Monday. "While the staff involved in these situations is no longer employed here, there is more work to be done to create a new educational environment that is safe, loving, and enriching for your children."

Staff writer Jeremy Thomas contributed to this report. Contact Erin Ivie at eivie@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/erin_ivie.