Lincoln Marti School teacher accused of hitting kids granted $25,000 bond

Clara Quintero-Gonzalez, 54, ordered to surrender Cuban passport

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A preschool teacher at the Lincoln Marti School in Miami Beach was granted a $25,000 bond Friday, a day after she was arrested for hitting multiple students inside her classroom.

Clara Quintero-Gonzalez, 54, will be placed on house arrest if she posts bail, and was ordered to surrender her Cuban passport and to stay away from children under the age of 12.

Quintero-Gonzalez faces multiple charges, including three counts of child abuse, one count of aggravated child abuse and one count of child neglect.

"Listen, this is a serious allegation," the woman's attorney, Jordan Redavid, said. "There's a lot of emotions at stake. The allegations deal with young children, so everybody takes it seriously. It pulls at your heart strings no matter what side you're on."

A mother whose daughter attended the day care, Laura Pantano, 35, is credited with confronting Quintero-Gonzalez Aug. 25 after she allegedly witnessed the teacher slapping a 3-year-old boy in the face and shaking him.

Police said employees at the day care initially claimed that the surveillance cameras do not have the capacity to record and work only as a live feed.

However, detectives said the cameras do in fact record, and said that they saw Quintero-Gonzalez striking multiple children.

According to an arrest report, the teacher punched a 2-year-old's right arm, and attempted to strike the child three additional times, but missed once before the boy recoiled his arm. 

Police said she then struck him again a short time later in a "karate chop-type manner."

"Both incidents were without provocation," the report said.

Detectives said Quintero-Gonzalez denied hitting the boy, even though she watched the video in front of detectives.

Detectives said they saw the teacher striking a 3-year-old student without provocation on the leg, but said that she claimed in Spanish that "it was nothing."

In a third incident, Quintero-Gonzalez is seen putting her face up against a 3-year-old boy's ear. When he puts his hand up and moves away from the suspect, she slaps his arm twice, shakes him, turns him in his chair and slaps him across the face, police said.

She also slapped his hands three times each, police said.

Detectives said Quintero-Gonzalez continued to deny that she struck the child after watching the surveillance video in front of detectives.

In a fourth incident, Quintero-Gonzalez is accused of striking a 2-year-old child in the face with her elbow and then slapping the child in the right hand.

Again, the teacher denied abusing the child and said in Spanish that "it was nothing," the report said.

After watching the video, Miami-Dade County Judge Mindy Glazer issued a bond far less than what the state requested, but still found probable cause for all of the charges.

"I think the video spoke for itself," Redavid, said. "I think the judge's commentary prior to issuing the bonds speaks volumes, but at this time we're just going to prepare our defense and move forward."

Detectives said the video clearly shows the abuse and said that some of the children have been deeply affected by it.

"He was extremely upset about having to go back. She had to take him out of school," Detective Juan Sanchez told the judge about one of the young boys.

Quintero-Gonzalez's two daughters and niece were in court. All they managed to say was that, "It's not fair."

School officials said they are cooperating with the investigation. Detectives said Quintero-Gonzalez was suspended from her job Aug. 25.  

"Our detectives will continue to work on this case to ensure justice is given to these four children," Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said.

A representative from the Florida Department of Children and Families said they are investigating the teacher's actions, as well as the practices at the preschool and the company as a whole.

Anyone who believes their child was a victim of Quintero-Gonzalez, or any other teacher at the school, is asked to call Miami Beach police or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

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