Teacher in Viral NJ School Abuse Video Pleads Guilty to Child Endangerment

The teacher caught on cellphone video manhandling a 2-year-old girl at a New Jersey school last year will spend 120 days behind bars.

Kelli Dugan, 31, pleaded guilty to second-degree child endangerment charges Friday afternoon after with video clips obtained by NBC 4 New York showed the former daycare worker holding a toddler by her legs, yelling at the child and eventually swinging her over a fence. 

Dugan's guilty plea comes as part of a deal with Hudson County prosecutors; she'll spend 120 days in a county jail and will serve probation upon her release.

At the plea hearing, Dugan admitted to holding the child upside down, putting her hands around the toddler's neck and dragging the girl by her arms. 

The girl's mother cried during the hearing but declined to comment on the case to NBC 4 New York.

NBC 4 New York first reported on the video of the child being roughed up in June; several employees, including Dugan, were fired after the report.

Apple Montessori, which runs 17 schools in New Jersey, said it has implemented a comprehensive five-point plan to reinforce staff training, enhance security, and strengthen protocols for child safety and security.

Another teacher seen forcefully jamming a hat on a toddler's head, was cleared of criminal charges. 

Parents of the two children filed a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages from Apple Montessori Schools and several employees for negligence, emotional damage, breach of contract, assault and other charges.

The owners of Apple Montessori have declined multiple requests for an interview, but said in a statement to NBC New York that the owners “took immediate and definitive action” and that they have “reviewed and reinforced training” procedures.

The Hoboken Prosecutor’s Office urges anyone who knows a child is being abused to report it to the New Jersey Department of Children and Families hotline at 1-877-NJ-Abuse, local police departments, or the Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit at (201) 915-1234.  

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