MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A teacher at a Miami Beach child care center is under arrest after police say she was caught on surveillance video physically abusing young children in her care.
Clara Luz Quintero Gonzalez, 54, a teacher at Lincoln-Marti child care center in Miami Beach, is charged with aggravated child abuse, child abuse and child neglect.
“Four victims have been identified between the ages of 2 and 3,” said Miami Beach Police Officer Ernesto Rodriguez.
Laura Pantano says she was picking up her 4-year-old daughter last week when she saw Quintero on the school’s surveillance video slapping a 3-year-old boy after grabbing him by the shoulders and rattling him.
“She hit him four times and then on his hands and by seeing that at that moment I had no doubts and I went upstairs and I stared fighting with her, a verbal fight,” said Pantano. “And I accused her and I told her I was calling the police right then.”
Officer Rodriguez said, “There is video surveillance our detectives have been able to review that will not be released at this time and that is what culminated the appropriate charges for each of those victims,” said Officer Rodriguez.”
According to the arrest affidavits, “Detectives observed the 54-year-old defendant, on the school’s surveillance camera, walk up the 3-year-old victim, bend over putting her face up against his left ear, the child is seen putting his right hand up to his ear and moving away from the defendant. The defendant then maliciously punishes the child by slapping the 3-year-old victim’s right arm twice, then she grabs the 3-year-old victim’s arm and yanks it backwards away from his ear.
It goes on to say Quintero slapped and hit the child several. The report also states “children in the classroom, ages 2 and 3 can be seen running around, repeatedly striking each other, throwing items not in the clear eye of the teacher.”
In another incident, police say Quintero is seen striking a 2-year-old in the face with her right elbow, then striking the child with her hand.
In a third reported incident, police said surveillance video captured Quintero striking another 3-year-old student without provocation.
This time, according to the report, Quintero used her right hand to strike the child in the right leg.
In the fourth and final reported incident, police said cameras also caught Quintero hit a 2-year-old child with a closed right fist on the right arm and then several more times a little later.
Parents at the school are having a hard time believing what Quintero is being accused of.
“She was the favorite teacher of my daughter,” said Ola Solovey. “And my daughter was really treated really well at this school. She always came back home happy.”
The school released a statement that read, in part, “Lincoln-Marti is fully cooperating with the investigation and will continue to do so. Additionally, Lincoln-Marti is conducting its own investigation of the allegations and has already taken appropriate precautionary measures, including removing the instructor that was implicated from the classroom. The instructor will remain away from the school on administrative leave while the investigation is pending.”
Quintero is being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. She’s scheduled to appear before a judge Friday.