Pasco County deputies are investigating allegations a 5-year-old boy sustained facial and abdominal wounds following severe physical bullying.
The incidents reportedly took place at KinderCare off Oak Myrtle Lane in Wesley Chapel.
The boy has since been pulled from the day care and his parents filed a report with the Department of Children and Families, the agency overseeing the day care.
Deputies did question the owner of the day care Tuesday morning.
"His face was completely smashed and I said, 'What the hell happened?'" said Steven Stallone, the boy's father.
According to Stallone, he picked up his son Aidan from the day care on March 31st and found his face bruised on the right side.
"My son was shaking when I picked him up," Stallone recalled.
Stallone says he questioned his son and then immediately went inside the day care to question workers.
"When I went back in the school, I said, 'What is this tripping game my son tells me that a 10-year-old boy wanted to play, the tripping game?'" Stallone explained.
He claims workers gave him an excuse.
"Oh yeah! I told him not to play the tripping game and they were playing rough and I told them to calm down," Stallone claims a worked told him.
Stallone said he let the initial incident go and allowed his son to return to day care. He says this Monday, he picked his son up from school and once again his son had injuries.
He told ABC Action News he once again questioned the day care workers and was told his son was playing rough with the same 10-year-old again.
"At what point during the day did you see a 5-year-old boy and a 10-year-old boy playing rough and you knew that they said they wanted to play a tripping game, at what point did you say, 'OK! We've got to stop this?' That negligence caused by son to get hurt," Stallone added.
The boy's mother said she feels this is a combination of negligence and bullying.
"He didn't want to go to school," said Chelsea Stallone.
The day care owner declined to comment to ABC Action News and referred us to corporate.
DCF overseas the facility.
There have been no complaints this year. In 2015, one complaint included a teacher leaving a child unsupervised in a classroom. Paperwork shows the day care owner immediately fired that teacher.
KINDERCARE ISSUES STATEMENT
KinderCare Spokesperson Collen Moran released the following statement to ABC Action News:
We are committed to creating a safe, nurturing program for all children. We know some scrapes and scratches are a natural part of childhood. Of course, we understand that any injury to their child can be upsetting for a parent.
I can assure you that any time any child is injured at our center, our teachers treat the injury and fill out an incident report form that they share with the child’s parents. The same was done for this child.
Although minor injuries, like scrapes, that require no medical attention are reported only to the child’s parents, we did call licensing this morning to inform them about the situation. They, along with CPS and the sheriff, are looking into the issue, and we will support these agencies in any way we can.
During the drop-off and pick-up times – when there aren’t many children in the center – we mix several age groups to ensure that we have appropriate supervision of all the children where one classroom might otherwise only have one student in the center, for instance. This practice is in accordance with Licensing guidelines.
While we don’t believe bullying is an issue at this center, KinderCare’s Inclusion Services team is working with staff to determine if there’s any additional support or training they can provide our teachers. The Inclusion Services team helps teachers determine the best way to support children’s specific needs, whether that’s through our curriculum or by offering support or training to teachers.
ABC Action News is following this story and will bring you updates as they become available.