Former teacher pleads not guilty to child cruelty charges - CBS46 News

Former teacher pleads not guilty to child cruelty charges

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FULTON COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

Melanie Pickens, 34, has pleaded not guilty to abusing five students while she was a teacher at Hopewell Middle School in Milton, according to Judge Henry Newkirk's chambers. Pickens also waived her right to a preliminary hearing. 

A Fulton County grand jury indicted Pickens in December on 11 counts of cruelty to children and false imprisonment.  According to investigators, Pickens abused nonverbal disabled students between 2004 and 2007 by shoving them into lockers and walls, pushing them and restraining and isolating them for hours in a dark room.

CBS Atlanta began reporting on the abuse beginning in August 2011. Parents of the special needs students claimed Fulton County Schools officials covered up the abuse for years.

Teachers and school personnel said they had reported Pickens to school administrators but that nothing was done to stop the abuse.

In 2007, the district hired an outside investigator who substantiated the abuse in report.

Pickens resigned from the district in 2007.

Pickens' next court appearance has not been scheduled. 

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