WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Miami Beach schoolteacher has been charged with child abuse and neglect on several of her students after, police said, surveillance video showed her repeatedly hitting several toddlers.
According to Miami Beach Police, 54-year-old Clara Luz Quintero-Gonzalez was caught on a classroom surveillance camera striking the young students at Lincoln-Martí School, located at 1700 Jefferson Ave., Aug. 25.
The case came to light after Laura Pantano came to the school to pick up her daughter and noticed on the surveillance system Quintero-Gonzalez slapping a pupil in the face. “I saw the teacher, that was my daughter’s old teacher last year, hitting a child across the face four times and hitting his hands violently,” said Pantano.
The concerned parent called police, and they began an investigation into the matter. Upon reviewing surveillance video, detectives said they found abuse to other children.
According to the arrest report, in the video, Quintero-Gonzalez “strikes 2-year-old in face with her right elbow” and “grabs 3-year-old victim’s arm and yanks it backward toward his ear.” The report further states Quintero-Gonzalez is seen slapping a “3-year-old victim on left side of face, causing his face to abruptly turn to the right,” and to another child, “strikes child in a karate type manner.”
Quintero-Gonzalez appeared in front of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mindy S. Glazer, Friday morning, and was charged with three counts of child abuse and one count of aggravated child abuse. She also faces one count of child neglect for leaving the classroom while children stayed inside.
Glazer also ordered Quintero-Gonzalez not to have any contact with children under 12.
“Listen, this is a serious allegation,” said Quintero-Gonzalez’s attorney, Jordan Redavid. “I mean, there’s a lot of emotions at stake. The allegations are with young children, so everybody takes it seriously. It pulls on your heartstrings no matter what side you’re on, but at this time, we’re just going to have to move on and prepare and hopefully get her out before this long weekend.”
Pantano said, a year ago, she complained to administrators that she suspected abuse at Lincoln-Martí, but it was brushed off. “They discounted everything, never once even looking in depth at what I said,” she said. “For me, they’re responsible, if not more responsible.”
In a statement, the school said that they are cooperating with the case. It reads in part, “Lincoln-Martí voluntarily provided video footage of the incident to the police and has fully cooperated with the investigation since it began.”
Police said, based on the surveillance video, more charges could be forthcoming.
Quintero-Gonzalez remains behind bars at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in West Miami-Dade on a $25,000 bond. The judge has ordered her to turn over her Cuban passport before she is released.
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