A Michigan substitute teacher has been fired after a preschool student claimed the teacher taped his mouth shut and threw away his lunch.
The substitute was “immediately released from employment” with the Crestwood School District in southern Michigan after a witness told school officials that they saw the assistant place scotch tape on 5-year-old Abdul Dannaoui’s mouth in March, the school district's superintendent said in a statement Wednesday.
The district said it reported the incident to Abdul’s parents and “other appropriate authorities,” but the boy’s family said the district failed to address the situation with adequate discipline and transparency.
Abdul said the March 26 incident happened in front of his classmates at lunchtime, claiming two teachers had prevented him from eating by taping his mouth shut as many as 10 times, his mother, Hoda Dannaoui, told ABC affiliate WXYZ on Monday.
Abdul, who attends the preschool program at Highview Elementary School in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, also claimed the teachers threw his lunch in the trash and laughed about it.
“I’m emotionally heartbroken. Disappointed. That’s his second home. That’s how they treat a child with asthma,” his mother said, adding that she plans to remove him from the school. “I am not afraid. I’m going to fight for my kid.”
The family said it filed a report with the Dearborn Heights police and plans to take legal action against the school district, their attorney, Nabih Ayad, told WXYZ.
The Dearborn Heights Department confirmed that it is investigating the incident.
“It’s outrageous. It’s absurd. You think you send your kid to a place or school, where he would be safe,” Ayad said. “One of the teachers was discharged. But, they kept the other teacher who said, ‘Don’t tell your mom or dad,’ and even gave [my son] a bracelet to entice him not to tell anyone.
“We feel that it was just a joke among these teachers -- a laugh for them,” he added.
Crestwood Superintendent Laurine VanValkenburg said the district found no proof to indicate that a second employee may have been involved.
“There have been no other reports of similar incidents,” VanValkenburg said in the Wednesday statement. “The Crestwood School District does not approve or accept this type of behavior.
“The district works to ensure that all children are safe and secure in a high-quality setting,” she added.