updated 10/11/2007 10:35:10 PM ET 2007-10-12T02:35:10

A woman arrived at her child's day care center to find the building closed with her 14-month-old daughter locked inside alone, authorities said.

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The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and Dallas police are investigating how the girl was left alone for nearly two hours Tuesday night. She was asleep in a high chair and was not injured, according to state officials.

"I was so upset," said the girl's mother, Ashley Hunter. "I was never going to put my child in day care. She had only been there three weeks."

Hunter said she couldn't get past the gate blocking the driveway at L&S Early Childhood Learning Academy and called police. Rescue workers broke the door to get the girl, according to a police report.

Spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said Family and Protective Services, which licenses child-care centers, has not determined whether it will take action against the center.

Depending on the agency's findings, sanctions might include temporarily closing the center, revoking its permit or excluding the responsible caregivers from working with children there, she said.

Shirley Ray, the center's owner, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The police report said the owners told police the last person left the facility at 6 p.m. and did not realize the child was still there.

Dallas police Sgt. Brenda Nichols said Wednesday that police hadn't decided whether to file criminal charges.

"It appears that it was just a communication breakdown in that nobody realized that that child was still there," Nichols said.

At a different day care business that operated in the same building, an 8-month-old boy died in 2003 from heat exposure after being left in a vehicle. The state closed that center. Gonzales said the center has new owners and operates under a different name.

L&S has been cited for six violations since February 2006, including record-keeping violations, using prohibited bumper pads and comforters in infants' cribs, and employing a caregiver without CPR or first-aid training.

One parent said the center's owners gave a good explanation for Tuesday night's mishap.

"That was just a big misunderstanding," said Joe Thomas, whose 3-year-old daughter attends the center. "These are good people, and that was an honest mistake."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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