A preschool teacher in Oceanside is accused of hitting, sexually assaulting and harassing two toddlers. The parents of those children believe school officials didn't protect them.
An Oceanside couple, who asked NBC 7 not to identify them, said they needed full-time care for their young children -- ages 1 and 3 -- because they work long hours.
"It was very important for us to find a good daycare to take care of our children while we were at work," said the mother.
The couple meets the eligibility requirements to attend a state subsidized preschool, but they said finding a facility is difficult.
"Being on an income eligible program they're very hard to find here especially in Oceanside. They work with your schedule and there's long waiting lists," the mother added.
Their kids were enrolled at Renu Hope Foundation in Oceanside in June 2018.
Renu Hope Foundation serves children at 10 locations throughout Riverside and San Diego counties. According to its website, Renu Hope Foundation receives the majority of its funding needs from the State Department of Education.
The parents were happy with the staff and school at first, but within a few months, the couple said their 3-year-old started acting out.
"He didn't want to go to school. He woke up crying it was literally a struggle I was late to work every day," said his mother.
The couple said their son told them his "lead teacher" hit him on the head and deprived him of food. They reported it to the California Department of Social Services or DSS in November 2018. DSS workers did an investigation, noting that no one witnessed the child being hit.
But based on the child's statement, his personal rights were violated. The food allegation was "unsubstantiated." NBC 7 Investigates reviewed the complaints and the results of the investigations on the Department of Social Services website.
The parents said besides their case, that same teacher was previously investigated by the Department of Social Services for hitting another child at the school and the school never disclosed that information.
Meanwhile, the parents told the school's administrator they wanted the teacher kept away from their kids.
With tensions rising on both sides, the couple said it was the school that expelled their children, citing bad behavior.
After the kids were removed from the school, the parents said their 3-year-old told them about another incident of being hit, which DSS investigators later found to have "sufficient evidence, that staff poked and/or slapped" him."
There were other allegations of inappropriate touching.
"He disclosed the physical and emotional abuse that was going on to him and sexual, " said his mother.
That's when the family decided to file a lawsuit.
Noting they would have removed their children much sooner from the school, but it was hard for them to find another state subsidized school in the area.
"Just because a school has the license and the credentials and they have everything you know that they're supposed to have first school. You never know what's going on behind closed doors," said their mother.
NBC 7 Investigates contacted Renu Hope Foundation by email and phone for a comment on these allegations. No one got back to us.
In a court filing, the Renu Hope Foundation challenged the legal basis for the lawsuit but did not respond to the individual allegations of abuse.