Mesa preschool worker pleads not guilty to abuse - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

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Mesa preschool worker pleads not guilty to abuse

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Lauren Miller (Source: Mesa Police Department) Lauren Miller (Source: Mesa Police Department)
© CBS 5 News © CBS 5 News
© CBS 5 News © CBS 5 News
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MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

An employee at a Mesa preschool accused of abuse after police found a 2-year-old girl restrained in a sleeping area has pleaded not guilty.

Maricopa County prosecutors say 22-year-old Lauren Miller entered her plea Monday. Her next court date is Dec. 18.

Miller was arrested Oct. 17 on suspicion of two counts of child abuse and two counts of unlawful imprisonment.

The Mesa Police Department was checking on a call of suspected child abuse at the Cholla Montessori School located at 2243 E. University Dr. in Mesa.

Mesa Police Department spokesman Steve Barry said detectives found evidence confirming child abuse.

A 2-year-old girl was found lying down and restrained in a room by herself.

Police said the girl is OK and back with her parents.

"They have questions. They want answers. They want to know did this happen to my child," said Berry.

Parents were notified after detectives made the discovery and told to return to the school and retrieve their children.

"They just said it was some type of abuse. Someone's child was restrained," said parent Tommy Letog. "I've never seen it. This is the first I've ever heard of it."

Employees were interviewed, including Miller who was arrested later that evening.

"I don't know if she is a teacher or an aide or what her position is, but someone who was employed here in some nature," said Berry.

Police said 27 children were in the building at the time.

"I think he wouldn't want to come back if something like that was happening," said Tommy Letog of his three year old son.

Records list Victoria Best as the owner of the school. She declined to be interviewed by CBS 5 News.

CBS 5 News obtained information from the Arizona Department of Economic Security that showed the Cholla Montessori received 11 citations in 2011, including hygiene issues, paperwork discrepancies and staffing issues.

The center received 17 citations last year including plumbing problems, paperwork discrepancies and staffing issues.

During a recent 2013 survey, they had one citation.

There are 15 children ages 3 to 4 in the preschool classroom and one staff member. The faculty director said they have been understaffed in the past and are hiring staff to ensure the appropriate staff-to-student ratio is met.

Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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