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Miami schools special needs teacher arrested, fired for alleged neglect, abuse

Miami special needs teacher arrested, fired for alleged abuse against students
Miami special needs teacher arrested, fired for alleged abuse against students

MIAMI, Fla. – A Miami-Dade School District elementary school teacher is facing charges for child neglect and abuse after actions she allegedly took against two children at the school. Also, according to a statement from the district, the teacher has been fired.

Graciela Reyes-Marino, 60, a special-needs teacher at Auburndale Elementary School, is accused of grabbing one student by the wrist and escorting him to a bathroom then “shoving” the child into the bathroom and closing the door. The report said that Marino-Reyes then left the child confined and unsupervised for three to four seconds.

In the second incident, Reyes-Marino is accused of punching a student “on his upper back area with a closed fist.”

On Thursday, detectives interviewed Reyes-Marino about the incidents. She stated that the child had his hands around his stomach area “as if he was experiencing” pain," so she escorted him to a bathroom where she placed him on a changing table, leaving the door open by using a chair while she went to get a diaper.

The teacher denied striking any child with a closed fist.

Veteran teacher accused of abuse walks out of jail on bond
Veteran teacher accused of abuse walks out of jail on bond

Detectives interviewed a witness who said that had seen one child stand up from his desk repeatedly. The witness said when the child stood up for the third time, Reyes-Marino “forcefully sat him down on his chair by putting both hand on his shoulders.” The child screamed, according to the witness, and kicked Reyes-Marino then “threw himself” on the floor.

Reyes-Marino, according to the witness, lifted him from the ground and punched him with a “closed fist.” When another child began to cry over the actions, the witness said that Reyes-Marino took that child, grabbed his hands and walked him to the bathroom, where she opened the door and shoved him into the bathroom corridor. That witness said she was the person who released the child from the confined area.

An investigation into the allegations is ongoing by the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department.

According to Miami-Dade Public School District, Reyes-Marino had been employed by the district for eight years.

The district released a statement regarding the allegations.

“Miami-Dade County Public Schools is deeply disturbed about the serious allegations made against the employee. Conduct such as the one she is accused of will not be tolerated. As soon as the allegations surfaced, the individual was reassigned away from the school setting pending the outcome of an investigation by the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department. As a result of this week’s arrest, her employment will be terminated and she will be precluded from seeking future work with the District.”

The arrest forms for Reyes-Marino showed that there may have been yet another instance of abuse. Local 10 consulted an attorney, not involved in the case, on what the arrest forms show that if, in fact, there were three separate instances of neglect and abuse. At this time Reyes-Marino is charged with two counts.

Attorney David S. Weinstein told Local 10 that “between the two (arrest) forms, there appears to be 3 different children/students characterized as victims.”

As for the third victim identified in the form, Weinstein said that “by virture of the fact that there are no charges related to the . . . victim contained in the (arrest) form, it appears that incident was not corroborated by any facts that would support probable cause for an arrest.”

As for the two alleged instances for which Reyes-Marino has been charged, Weinstein said: “Neither of these incidents happened in the presence of the arresting officers and their determination of probable cause for an arrest appears to be based upon the statement(s) of the complaining witness. It does not appear that anyone interviewed the children/students. It will be up to the Assistant State Attorney assigned to review this case as to whether any formal charges are filed.”

About the Authors:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."