A cellphone video showing a teacher at a Montessori school in New Jersey aggressively handling a 23-month-old girl has horrified local parents, and the school says five teachers and aides connected to the incident have been fired.
The video, shot from a high-rise window above the Apple Montessori School in Hoboken, shows children playing outside. One of the teachers grabs a 23-month-old girl and roughly attempts to put a hat on her head. Clearly exasperated, the teacher aggressively picks up the child and pushes her to the ground, finally leaving her lying there as other children play around her.
Parents at the school were fuming Wednesday.
"I'm already sick to my stomach watching someone else's child," said parent Antoinette Libiola. "It would horrify me."
The child in the video is Brett Stenhouse's daughter. He saw the video for the first time when it was shown to him by NBC 4 New York, and was shaken but said the little girl is OK.
"It was really disturbing," said Stenhouse. "We're being told that there had been an incident. I didn't expect it to be as severe as it actually was."
The video was captured in May, but Stenhouse only found out about it Wednesday. The person who shot the video wrote to NBC 4 New York, saying she showed it to the school director last week and was told the teacher would be placed on working probation for 30 days, meaning she would be able to remain on site and working.
After that conversation, she feared the school wouldn't notify parents, so she posted the video on Facebook. A local parenting group reposted it, and parents of children outside the school were equally horrified.
"I can't believe that the school didn't take immediate action and contact the parent," said Zina Segev.
The family that runs the Apple Montessori Schools sent a letter to parents Wednesday, saying in part, "We are outraged by the lack of care and concern this employee showed. We do not condone this type of behavior in any way, shape or form."
They claimed the video was "just sent to their attention," and they have fired the teacher as a result.
Apple Montessori School confirmed the teacher had been fired and said in a statement Thursday it was "deeply troubled by the behavior of the former staffer." The school said it didn't see the video until Wednesday, and took immediate action to remove the aide from the classroom.
The director and assistant director of the Hoboken location, who had the video last week, also were fired "for their mishandling of this incredibly serious situation," the school said, along with a teacher and another teacher's aide who were present at the time the video was shot.
"We are outraged by the lack of care and concern this former employee showed," Apple Montessori School in Hoboken said. "We do not condone this type of behavior in any way, shape or form. Additionally, we are instituting new safety measures to ensure that this type of incident doesn’t happen again."