Preschool teachers charged after parents allege abuse on video

Southeast

Zeina Alostwani and Soriana Briceno (Roswell Police)

ROSWELL, Ga. (AP) — Two suburban Atlanta preschool teachers have been charged with felony child cruelty after parents alleged they saw the teachers physically abuse children on live video from the classroom.

Roswell police on Wednesday told local news outlets they are asking the public for more information on incidents involving Zeina Alostwani, 40, and Soriana Briceno, 19.

The two taught toddlers in a classroom for Parker-Chase preschool in the suburb north of Atlanta.

Warrants obtained by WXIA-TV state Briceno pushed a 2-year-old in the forehead. Police say video also shows Alostwani standing on the hand of a 3-year-old and then kneeing the 2-year-old in the back.

A mother who was viewing video earlier in June said she saw the abuse. She and her husband told news outlets they went to the school to report the abuse. Police were then called.

“It doesn’t matter whose child it is,” Brant Duncan told WSB-TV. “It’s a child. They’re helpless. They’re defenseless.”

The women were arrested Monday. Alostwani was granted $75,000 bail Tuesday and was released Wednesday, while Briceno was denied bail because of her immigration status. It’s unclear if either has a lawyer representing them.

Several other parents have reported abuse since the arrests. Police said they are reviewing video looking for other instances.

The owner of the preschool, Endeavor Schools, told parents it fired the women for “inappropriate disciplinary actions.”

“We expect our staff to adhere to the highest standards of care, and any failure to do so will not be tolerated,” Endeavor said.

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is investigating “allegations of inappropriate discipline,” spokesperson Reg Griffin said. Endeavor said child welfare authorities were also called.

A teacher who wrote a statement given to police said Alostwani and Briceno had a history of abusive behavior, including screaming, pinching and pulling ears.

“Whenever a child wasn’t listening or following directions, Zeina would get in the child’s face and scream at them, pinch their cheeks, arms, nose, pull their ears, she would sometimes pick them up and very forcefully would place them back down on the carpet. Soriana would do some of the same actions as Zeina, but at a different time,” the warrant reads, quoting the statement.

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